Thursday, April 30, 2009

Leadership - The Indispensible Syndrome

Ever get into a situation when you feel as if the team will totally fail without you?

I have.

I suppose we get the idea from sports where one key player goes down--like the quarterback on a football team, and the team fails to make the playoffs. We blame the lack of a quarterback on the missed opportunity. But really--there was another quarterback who stepped in. Think of the great back-ups who have taken their teams to the playoffs after the starter was injured--like Earl Morrall.

But really? How many times have you heard it said that it takes a team to succeed and even if someone makes a poor play or causes a penalty, or hits into a season ending triple-play, it is not as if that was the only opportunity that the team had during the entire game. There are many opportunities--we just seem to remember the dramatic endings as time runs out or the third out of the ninth inning.

The belief that the entire success or failure of the team is up to one person is not something seen in only the team leaders. Team members can also feel as if they are indispensable. Without them, nothing will get done and there will be total chaos and utter failure. And for a moment in time--just the right moment it may be true. But it cannot be and should not be an all-day, every-day thing.


Come on--what happened before you? And the mark of a good team leader/member is training your replacement--remember that concept of succession planning?

Think of the stress! If you really are the only one--then how do you ever take a day off? Even God rested on the seventh day! And, nothing personal, but believing that you are absolutely indispensable kind of equates your view of yourself with that of a god.

So what is really going on here?

I think it is a matter of low self-esteem or self-worth. Losing oneself in the team provides a personal boost of importance and hides a multitude of other problems.

Don't get me wrong, each team member needs to feel important and to be a true contributing member--but there is a difference between contributing to success and being indispensable.

Think of the broken relationships caused by being indispensable. Those extra hours and effort given to the team, or at the office, or to the church, or to whatever project/team you are part of are given at an expense in relationships with family and friends. I am a living example of the work-alcoholic approach to live. A classic Type-A military officer who takes charge and is the last one to leave the ship when it's going down! Pretty empty at the end of the day.

Balance. There needs to be balance.

True--the team may not be as efficient when you are gone--but stuff will still be done and if the absence is planned, others can step up to fill the gap.

In my business, people come and go all the time. We plan to fill gaps. We are always looking around and asking the--"what if ____ get's hit by a bus" question. Teams need to plan for success and not to burn members out. During each big project we strive to allow the "back-ups" to get some playing time so they feel more comfortable making decisions. There is nothing worse than getting called while on vacation with a "big problem" that someone else should be able to handle. If only I had trained them!

So here are some hard words: You are not indispensable! If you think you are you are doing yourself AND your whole team a disservice and stifling the growth of those around you. And, you are harming yourself by not allowing yourself to have healthy relationships with family and friends.

Get a life outside your team. Being critical and important and contributing is good. But, being indispensable is very dysfunctional.

"The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men." Charles de Gaulle

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

St Michaels, Maryland - 2009

Yes--I call it a vacation.

We stayed in a great hotel right on the harbor--our windows had a full view of the harbor. The temperatures were in the 90's and it was sunny. We were with friends and we attended the 2009 Food and Wine Festival.

What could be better?

Probably not much. The weather was awesome and I learned a lot more about wine at the seminars.
And the food was good, too. But mostly--it was a weekend away at a nice hotel with friends. We probably won't do all three days next year as we are planning a Spring Break getaway next year. But we will definitely do at least one day!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pool Opening - 2009

The cover came off the pool yesterday. Now the work begins.

Ugh! I can't believe how much work I have to do on the pool this year. Old pools require lots of maintenance. It doesn't look like the picture from 2008 yet, but it will.

The water looks good. And I got the pump going. The new motor is purring. But the pollen. I read that the tree pollen is up over 1800 whatever (parts per ga-zillion or something like that). Everything is covered with a yellow dust--my truck, Chris' car, the surface of the water.

But--summer is approaching and the pool party season is already lined up and ready to begin. We have three pool parties already scheduled.

I worked last night until after dark with the lights on in the pool until I had made the water so cloudy I couldn't see.

But I keep looking at the pictures of fun from last season and i know it is all worth it.

Watching Makayla yesterday as I worked was a joy. The funniest thing happened after the cover was off and she was standing next to me while I was working with the vacuum. She got startled and backed up into the deep end. She was clinging to the top of the wall with her front paws--while her back end was all wet. It was a funny moment for me--but I could tell from the look in her eyes that she didn't find it funny, so instead of getting a camera I pulled her to safety.

Pools. Do they have doggie life-guards?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Musings - April 27th

After a glorious weekend, who could possibly be upset about anything!

1. I love 90 degree days--bring it on!

2. A weekend at a hotel on a harbor while attending a Food and Wine Festival is a great way to kick-off the summer run.

3. Picnics in the living room are a unique way to enjoy variety in life.

4. The grass grows faster when April showers are followed by 90 degree temperatures.

5. It's fun to argure about mowing the grass when we both WANT to mow! Wait until August when the loser GETS to mow!

6. The problem with staying in a hotel near a harbor? Now I want a boat! A big boat! What on earth am I going to do with a boat?

7. The trees are getting green with leaves--wow, maybe summer isn't that far off!

8. How is a puppy supposed to learn sit, wait, stay, down, roll-over, leave-it, take-it, and come if I can't keep them straight? It makes my head spin.

9. Safety tip: do not tie a puppy outside on a leash that she can chew through! (Chris!) Cost? $27 for new leash!

10. Tires do not last forever and when they get out of balance, it can make the ride a real problem, like yesterday coming back from St. Michaels at no more that 60 MPH. I thought the passenger in the car was going to have a melt down. But the wobble at 65 was awful. Thank goodness for full-size spares.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Picnic Dinner in a Tent in the Living Room

There we were--the three (or was it four) of us gathered under a blanket strewn across chairs (representing a tent) for our evening meal of Chik-fil-A. Ethan wanted to eat in a tent, so E and Grandma, Poppop, and (briefly) Makayla gathered to share the evening meal.

Some observations:

Eating on the floor is fun if you are a dog--and it is actually too close to the dogs. Makayla had to be removed from the room to allow the dinner to continue.

A blanket across chairs is a good representation of a tent--and guess what? No bugs!

As this was a late dinner--after Makayla's puppy class, we were hungry.

Telephones really put a damper on meals--it rang twice.

The benefits of picnic meals in the living room? No ants! Easy of clean-up, and of course pack-up of all the materials is simple.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Look at the Evidence: What did You DO Today?

OK--well as I threatened, here is part three from this weeks message at church. I can't tell you how long it has been since a message has caused me to consider some of its components this deep into the week.

Maybe I'm wearing out my welcome--but these ideas have really resonated with me this week and while there is nothing new here, maybe I just needed to hear these three ideas grouped together at exactly this moment in my life.

This one still revolves around Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them. - NET Bible

It is this whole concept of works. And I know whole denominations have been established on the basis of works, or grace or whatever. Those who know me, know that I am all about grace and the undeserved gift we have been given. This I always thought was not to minimize works--but to help understand their place in the bigger architecture.

But with respect to the whole discussion of works, what I heard this week really put it into perspective for me. And based on Eph 2:10, I know that God has prepared works for me to do and for each Christ follower to do. But--here is the thought piece:

My works are not the means for me to get into heaven, but they could be the vehicle for someone else.

So isn't that what it's all about? The evidence of our salvation is in the effort we make to help others find their way while care for our brothers and sisters.

Hmmmm! It all seems so clear now.

Kinda like the salt in the box--if we're not out there spicing up life, we don't really matter because we are not contributing. We are lot's of unrealized potential. And that's not what we were created to do. Our reputation is built on what others see us doing, not what we necessarily say we are.

Hold fast to the grace we have received, but now it is time to get our hands, and feet, and face dirty!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What's in Your Reputation?

So here is the second installment from Sunday's message. Reputation. Again, it was a small item in the larger message--but it really hit home.

It was based upon Ephesians 2:10:

For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them. - NET Bible

The works we do and create (our workmanship) are a very personal expression of the who we are and form our reputation with those around us.

We often think about the reputation of us, as a collection of Christ followers called the church. But, how often do we think of our personal reputation and what people think of us? What is our workmanship telling others about us and who we are?

Ideally, we might desire that our reputation as a Christ follower be part of our legacy, but . . .

Reputation--so here is the question that was posed which I want to consider for a bit: IF you were talking with a group of people and left the conversation, what would they think of you? What is your reputation with them?

The considerations here are many--

What is your reputation with your family based upon your interactions (or not) with them? Do you sequester yourself from them with your nose in a book or on a computer when they are around? Is your reputation one of indifference? Or do you interact and stay involved with them?

What is your reputation with your friends? Is it different from your reputation within your family and is this good or bad?

What about your co-workers, superiors and subordinates? Is your reputation there different yet again?

What about those who work for you, like the computer-repair person, the plumber, the auto mechanic, the wait staff at the local restaruant? Based upon what they see and how you interact with them--what is your reputation?

If you have different reputations, perhaps you need to evaluate who you are really and decide what you want people to believe about you.

Hmmmm---I know I have some work to do.

P.S. So as I was reflecting on the idea of reputation, Romans 13:8 popped into my mind:

Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law -NET Bible

I want part of my reputation with others to be: He loved!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Plumbing--Do it yourself, or not?

Well, I have successfully forayed into the world of plumbing again--and lived to tell the tale.

The water heater thermostats keep resetting--meaning the water is getting too hot--so I decided to replace them.

Oh, and did I mention the toilet? It wouldn't stop running?

Well--I fixed the toilet and then proceeded to swap out the thermostats on the water heater. I was also going to replace the heating elements--but they wouldn't budge with the tool I had on hand--so I'm going to Home Depot for reinforcements later. A large socket to get the proper leverage to remove them!

Well I did remember to turn off the electricity AND I also remembered to drain the water heater. Both important safety steps.

So while the water heater is technically fixed--it is not completely fixed.

And the toilet works--

A good evening's work!

On to the pool house to turn on the water for the summer--but that is a story for another day

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Salt in the Box

I told Chris that this week's message at church would probably result in three blog entries. It was that powerful and filled with some really thought provoking stuff.

So I was really impressed with a visual used during the message about salt. Of course the reference was to the statement by Jesus in Matt 5:13 that we are the salt of the earth.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people." NET Bible

Now most of us are probably familiar verse and its implications that we, as Christ followers are supposed to be out in the world. We see ourselves as the spice of the world bringing God to the God-less and the hurt and hope to the hopeless.

And we are supposed to be that way. And while the message was not about this verse on Sunday, it was about our reputation (more on that later), at one point a box of salt was held up and likened to those of us in church that morning. And I could see the similarity--if each of us were a considered a grain of salt, then salt in the box could be likened to a church service on Sunday where all the grains are gathered.

The grains of salt are not much good in the box or the shaker. There is a lot of potential--but no action!

Think about it. Salt isn't actually valuable until we pour it our of the box into or onto something. We have to use it.

A bunch of Christ followers in their Sunday club house is much the same. Potential abounding but action pending.

We have to get out of the building and into the world to be the "salt of the earth" and give flavor and spice to the world. Hiding in our safe house--well it's just that, hiding and it doesn't do much good.

Anyway--that small visual really hit me hard this week and helped me to get deeper into the verse and understand that to be salt--we need to get out into the world. And the world will use us up. But it will be a better place.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Musings - April 20, 2009

What a wonderful weekend!

1. I love it when the sun shines--it makes the days so much more enjoyable.

2. The weeping cherry tree in our yard brings the color of Springtime to a new high point as it sits majestically bathed in sunlight. And framed against the blue sky it almost makes up for the past six months of cold and winter.

3. I mowed the lawn for the second time this Spring--and I enjoyed it still. Too soon it will become a chore, but right now, it helps me appreciate the green and smells of springtime.

4. Life on the planet would be miserable without Zyrtec.

5. When the weather is nice and I get to drive Kitty, I can't help but smile.

6. Friday night out with the guys is awesome. We went to the Glory Days Bar in Glen Burnie and had a great time.

7. Afternoon naps make everything right with the world!

8. Puppies recover very quickly from surgery--Makayla has been a terror all weekend.

9. Gas for the lawn mower: $5; Supplies for the pool: $400; sitting on the front porch with Chris drinking a glass of wine as the evening falls: Priceless!

10. Breakfast on the back porch is where it's at.

11. I had forgotten how bright the sun is--when I came into the house after reading on the deck I was blinded for a short while until my eyes adjust. Can I do it some more?

12. When the days are really nice during early Springtime, I don't want to be a work. OK--I left 30 minutes early on Friday.

13. Denver got a huge snowfall on Friday. Better them than us!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Teams and Rain and Expectations

Ever notice that when the weather is rainy, gray, and overcast that people begin to notice the weather and it affects them in a negative manner? Like, for instance, the past three days have been nothing but rain and gray, and unseasonable cold temperatures. People are sluggish and moving and sometimes thinking slowly.

Team leaders need to be sensitive to weather effects on their teams. Leaders tend to be highly charged people who on most days probably don't even notice the weather--and this can become a source of frustration when dealing with their teams.

Leaders need to find ways to interact with the sluggish team members and help them overcome the effects of the weather. Charge them up--without turning them off. Help them spin up to speed and obtain the high energy that you have.

So what is a leader to do when confronted with a lethargic team on a high energy day?

First, begin to ramp the energy level up so they team rises to meet you.

Second, allow them the opportunity to rise on their own up to your expectations--but expect them to meet you.

Finally, recognize--people are affected by weather. Adjust your activity and expectations.

Success means recognizing the capabilities and limitations of your team as well as understanding the impact of outside influences.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Makayla's Surgery Journey

Well, I dropped off the wonder puppy this morning for her surgery. She is having her female parts altered to prevent off-spring. Puppies are fun but they are a lot of work, especially in multiples of like five or six. And then you need to find homes. Yeah! And worming them is always fun.

I'm not too amused at the vet--because they were supposed to micro-chip her as well, but I just got a call that they are out of micro-chips. I suggested they get one form another store and was informed that that was not possible due to the way they are ordered. So we get to return for more puppy adjustments later.

It is amazing how inefficient the vet is in processing dogs into the center for surgery. There are incredible mountains of paperwork to fill out and then--the add on questions. Trim her nails? Express her anal glands? Use some new surgical technique? Micro-chip? It was worse than buying a car.

I'm surprised they didn't want to add a USB port to facilitate future programming changes.

But all-in-all, Makayla was brave when I dropped her off. Of course she was playing with two full-grown black labs when they came for her.

We really didn't even get to say good-bye and I didn't get to reassure her that I would be back for her.

I wonder if that is important for puppies.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday Musings - 13 April 2009

And now, for the first week in a row, the Monday Musings--on Monday!

1. Birthdays and holidays stirred together form a weekend unlike any other weekend ever seen before.

2. Yes, Ethan, there really is an Easter Bunny. Makayla saw it in the yard and chased it away.

3. We appreciate warm weather more after it has been cold. OK, we got it, bring on the heat--now!

4. For the Orioles to win 2 out of every 3 games in a series is great--I just wish they wouldn't get blown out on the day they lose. I mean, 11-3? Really? And the 3 were gratuitous runs in the bottom of the 9th.

5. MASN needs to rethink its HD broadcasting policy--the O's games should be broadcast in HD and the Nats should be on probation until they get a win.

6. Pictures on Easter Sunday after church bring back memories of times long ago.

7. Everyone keeps asking me when I'm going to open the pool--and I will open it just as soon as we have a week where the temperatures aren't in the 30's at night. That may not be until June at the rate we're going.

8. Chaos is the only way to enjoy a holiday. It means everyone is together and most of them are happy. It is also what you get when you add a 5-month old puppy to a 1-year old and then toss in a 4-year old for good measure.

9. I forgot to drive the Jag on Easter. And we still got to church 30 minutes early.

10. You know its been a good day when at 9PM Makayla is laying on the floor in the family room and I get up to make coffee and she doesn't even move. Pure exhaustion from all the activity.

11. After four days off from work--a total of six counting the weekend, I really didn't want to get out of bed this morning.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday 2009

He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. Col 2:14 NET Bible

Chris and have this problem. We can't really celebrate Easter without first going through Good Friday. Seems we both need to be reminded of the sacrifice before we can celebrate the redemption--and it is in the somberness and remembrance of Good Friday that we are reminded of how we were bought with an incredible price--not of our own doing but out of Christ's love.

At service last evening, we were reminded of Christ's sacrifice, but it was the words from Colossians which really caught my attention and brought it all to reality.

We had a debt that there was no way we could pay--but Christ took it and paid it and nailed it to the cross for us. That is why a tool of torture and execution has become a symbol of hope and redemption--the cross. A place of death has become the way to life.

Happy Easter--our debt is paid and we are sons and daughters of God.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvingnon 2006

I am a big fan of the Smoking Loon wines--but I have to say I was let down by this wine. Unlike most of the others that I have had the pleasure to sample, this wine was lifeless. The nose was flat, the palette unremarkable, and the finish non-existent.

The tasting can be described as: This wine is dark deep plum in color with a nose of cherry pie and dark ripe berries and tree bark spice. Flavors of dark berries again fill the palate with a rich fruitiness and tingling acidity while ending with a smokey finish.

While the cost of this wine is definitely less than $8.00, I believe you can do better.

RECOMMENDATION: Not a first choice. In desperate times following two or three other bottles--it will hold up O.K.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Knowing: Movie Review

Took some of our precious Spring Break time to see the movie Knowing. We had thought it looked intriguing and wanted to see at least one current movie during Spring Break.

The movie is directed by Alex Proyas and stars Nicolas Cage and Chandler Canterbury.

The movie has a lot of promise as it begins. The plot is well developed and quickly pulls the viewer into it. A time capsule is opened 50 years after it is buried at an elementary school and there are troubling signs in the numbers on the sheet given to one boy that ultimately predict the end of the earth.

OK--it is a great start and a good story. The acting is good--not great but good. The story compelling as all of the pierces come together including the daughter and grand daughter of the girl who wrote the numbers on the paper 50 years ago. The interaction of the actors and characters is very good and the movement along the plot if compelling.

But let me tell you this--the ending is poor. Beautiful, Hollywood grand style, but a cheap movie trick. Yes it is set up at the beginning of the movie--but any movie that ends this way (and there are a lot lately) just is not a good movie. here are so many other ways to end movies other than resorting to this type of ending.

RECOMMENDATION: MUST MISS. There is no reason to see this movie unless you have absolutely nothing else to do. The ending is just bad. And I was left wondering if the movie producers believe I have any intelligence at all.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Out of the Fog

One morning last week, as I was walking across the parking lot to go in the front door of work, I noticed a real picturesque scene.

The parking lot was draped in fog--which always makes it kinda eerie, but it was just after dawn so the sky was brightening up lending a surreal lighting to the parking lot. On top of this, the fog was very close to the ground and so the flag, illuminated as it was, was flying above the fog boldly waving in a light breeze.

Wow I was a cool scene and I wished I had a camera or was an artist to be able to process the scene from my mind onto canvas.

I was filled at the same time with a feeling of patriotism and awe about the beauty of the world around us. Sometime we need to stop to smell the flowers--and likewise we need to stop to see the world and take it in.

Those are the moments where we realize we are part of something larger than ourselves.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Monday Musings on Tuesday

OK--totally missed last week and I'm late this week--but life does that sometimes.

1. I love baseball, especially when the Orioles beat up on the Yankees, 10-5 yesterday. I need to enjoy it while I can because there are another 161 games to play and reality will set in soon enough.

2. Opening Day should be a national holiday--it is simultaneously the beginning of both Spring and Summer.

3. The Orioles are the only sports team that all of us agree about being our favorite team.

4. I actually have two favorite teams: the Orioles and whoever is beating the Yankees.

5. I worked all weekend and had a lot of new experiences--who says an old dawg can't learn new tricks?

6. As the weather grows warmer--I love begin able to go outside without having to bundle up like Nanook of the North.

7. Makayla is growing like a weed. I can't believe how small she was just over three months ago.

8. Despite my belief to the contrary--I look forward to Spring Break. I decided to take the rest of the week off.

9. I wish we had planned a trip this year to somewhere for Spring Break. Key Largo comes to mind.

Monday, April 6, 2009

And God said "play ball"

I love baseball.

And when the game is going good it is really good.

Especially against the Yankees wjen the O's are winning and I'm at the park watching.

Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from my Blackberry

Opening Day

I'm at Camden Yards for opening day with the Orioles. Baseball is back and I'm thrilled.

And I'm thrilled to be at the game with my three sons.


Spring really is here.

Let's rock.

Bob Doan
Elkridge, MD
Sent from My Blackberry

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