Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Best Seven Bucks

This week we went grocery shopping, and I saw a huge bin of seedless watermelons. (Is the plural for watermelon spelled with an "s" or is it just watermelon...hmm..) Since it's starting to feel like summer, and Memorial Day was just last Monday, I knew that we NEEDED to buy one. As I was looking them over, Anne said, "I don't think we need one THAT big." I replied, "This one's not the biggest one, but we don't want it to be too small, there's five of us for pete's sake!" She rolled her eyes and said, "Put it in the cart." I was so excited about it, that I didn't even look at the price. (That might be a first) :) As we checked out, I realized that it rang up $6.98. Walking out of the store I said to my family, "Seven Bucks! That better be one GOOD watermelon!" After dinner, it was finally time to carve it up. I realized that all five of us were only going to eat about a quarter of it in one sitting. Okay, maybe it was bigger than we needed. (She's right again, yeah, yeah, yeah...) We started eating and it really did taste GOOD. We were all eating and making noises like mmm, yum, etc. when one of my daughters asked, "Is this the best seven bucks you've ever spent?!" The question took me by surprise. I mean, it was good and all, but was it the BEST SEVEN BUCKS ever? I'm still not sure. But if not, then what was the best seven bucks I've ever spent? I have thought about it way longer than I should, and I can't think of one thing that I've ever spent seven bucks for that was any better. So I guess I'm going to have to conclude that that watermelon truly was the BEST SEVEN BUCKS EVER! I'm curious, what was the best seven bucks you ever spent?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Galaxy Drive In

Last night we took a little field trip south of Dallas to the Galaxy Drive In for a little "blast from the past" entertainment. I didn't even know there were any drive in theaters still around, but some families from the church had been there before, and they thought it would be fun to take the kids. Because it was the Sunday before Memorial Day, I think a lot of people had the same idea. I never dreamed there would be so many cars at a drive in. This particular theater has four screens and was showing current films. I was glad we were watching Narnia: Prince Caspian instead of Indiana Jones because the Indy screen was packed. Before the movie began the announcer said it was the first time that they had caused the traffic to back up on the interstate, and they turned away 250 cars! Who'da thunk it! The movie started a little after 9pm. I enjoyed it, but not as much as the original. We decided to skip the second feature since we had about an hour drive to get back home. It was a fun time with family and friends, and a great way to start our Memorial Day.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Built to Last

I just finished a book called "Built to Last" by Jim Collins and Jerry Poras. The main idea behind the book is looking into what makes organizations last for generations. They studied several "visionary" companies and compared them to other companies that started around the same time but didn't have the same level of success. They wanted to figure out what qualities separated a visionary company from the rest.

Here are some of the ideas that I took away from the book.

Time Teller vs. Clock Builder- Before there were such things as clocks, if there was a person who could look at the sun and always know what time it was, that would have been pretty cool. People would always be asking him what time it was, and would wait in awe to hear the answer. The only problem is, what happens when the time teller dies? His gift dies with him. On the other hand, what if someone built a clock so that anyone who looked at it could tell time? When the clock builder passed away, people would still be able to know what time it was. How does this relate to organizations? They found that the processes were more important than the personalities in the companies they studied.

Preserve the Core AND Stimulate Progress- Visionary companies have a distinct set of core values that they live by. But they don't preserve the core at the expense of being progressive. Rather, they preserve the core and stimulate progress at the same time. Just doing one or the other will not lead to lasting success. However, it's not a matter of balance between the two but wholeheartedly embracing both at the same time.

BHAG'S- I first heard this term when I was having lunch with Jeb, but this book is where the phrase began. BHAG's are Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals. These are goals that seem impossible. Goals that would take years to attain. But these are also goals that organizations can rally around. Visionary organizations continue to set new BHAG's when they achieve the goals originally set. One instance of a BHAG achieved but not built upon was Henry Ford's Model T. He wanted to make the automobile affordable for the masses. This seemed unthinkable at the time, but he accomplished it. Unfortunately for him, General Motors took it one step further and eventuallly surpassed Ford's accomplishments.

Although this book was originally written in the mid-90's, I thought that it was still very relevant for today. Recommended.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hiding in the Baggage

A few weeks ago I was reading 1 Samuel 10 and an aspect of the story that I had never noticed jumped out at me.

The Israelites had decided that they wanted a king to rule them like the other nations. God spoke to Samuel that Saul was going to be the king, and so Samuel anointed him privately. Saul didn't mention this to anyone. When it was time to publicly install the new king of Israel, Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near. First he chose the tribe of Benjamin, then Matri's clan, and finally...he asked for Saul son of Kish. Where was Saul? Was he there? I can imagine that this was kind of an anticlimactic moment in the proceedings. The whole country was waiting in anticipation to find out who would be anointed king, and Samuel has asked for Saul, but he's nowhere to be found. I wonder if they had one of those spotlights, you know the kind at the awards shows..."Now appearing, the tribe of Benjamin (cheers, cheers, spotlight moving around the building), featuring Matri's clan (yahoo!!), and now the star of our show (drumroll, drama building) Saul!!!!" The spotlight comes to a stop and focuses on an empty spot of ground where Saul should be standing....."Um, we're having technical difficulties, when we find the new king we'll return after these messages..." Okay, I'm sure they didn't really handle it that way, but it's fun to think about. But where was Saul? I Samuel 10:21-24 says, "But when they looked for him (Saul), he was not to be found. So they inquired further of the Lord, 'Has the man come here yet?' And the Lord said, 'Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.' They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. Samuel said to all the people, 'Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.' Then the people shouted, 'Long live the king!'"

Saul knew what was getting ready to happen. His life would never be the same. God had selected him for a job that was way bigger than he had ever dreamed. Is it possible that he was having cold feet? I don't know about you, but it kind of makes me feel better knowing that even mighty kings sometimes feel like going into hiding. But did you notice that God was the one who told the people where to find Saul? God had chosen him, and wasn't going to let him hide for long.

What approach do you take when you feel like you are being asked to take on something bigger than yourself? I know that sometimes it can seem overwhelming. But, when you recognize that you can't do it on your own and you ask God for His help, then you can stand tall and face it. Besides, we'll come find you and pull you out of the baggage anyway. :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Friends With Blogs

One feature that most blogs have that I have not included so far is a blog roll. For anyone not familiar with blogs, a blog roll is simply a list of links to other blogs to make it easier to discover new people worth reading. I have decided to go ahead and start a blog roll of my own. As I started to think about it, I realized that I always feel honored when I notice that I'm on some one's list, and I've discovered some great blogs by checking out other people's lists. Since I started blogging, I have become aware of several friends who also write blogs. I have really enjoyed keeping up with their lives through their blogs, even if I don't get to see them very often or even at all anymore. My blog roll will only include friends that I actually know, not just people that I read. The list includes current and former coworkers, friends from current and former churches, family, business associates, and school friends. I will only include links to blogs that I currently subscribe to and read regularly. So, for those of you who typically read my posts by email or rss, take a minute to drop by the site and check out my "friends with blogs".

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Force Lives On

One of the things I love as a parent is introducing my kids to the things that I loved when I was younger. Growing up, I was a huge Star Wars fan. I was really too young to see Star Wars when it first came out, but by the time The Empire Strikes Back came out, I was totally into it. Over the last couple of weeks I've had the chance to relive my childhood through the eyes of my girls. They decided that they wanted to see the Star Wars trilogy, and I was more than happy to oblige. I guess the fact that they are getting older and hearing about it from their friends made them curious to know what all of the fuss was about. They have always been so scared of any costumes or creatures, I'm glad that they're growing out of that stage. Anyway, it was so fun to see them experience these movies for the first time. I forgot about some of the great quotes Yoda has while training Luke. "Try not. There is no try. Do or do not." I've already reminded one of my girls of that one. Or, Luke: "I don't believe it." Yoda: "That is why you fail." But my favorite momemt of all came at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Luke and Darth are fighting and this exchange takes place:

Darth Vader: Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.

Luke: He told me enough. He told me you killed him!

Darth Vader: No. I am your father.


My girls were stunned. They asked, "Is it true??" "Can it be?" I said, "We'll have to watch the next movie to see for sure." They wanted to go to Blockbuster right then to see how it turned out. Sydney and I kept acting out the scene the next day. She always made me do the Vader voice. When we finally did get to see "Return of the Jedi" and they found out that Luke and Leia were siblings they said, "You mean Luke kissed his sister?!" I just couldn't believe how much fun it was watching these with my kids! I've already made them sit through ET. I think Raiders of the Lost Ark is next on the nostalgia train.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Lunch With Jeb

I've been busy lately and I haven't had time to post about my lunch with Jeb Bush a couple of weeks ago. I was just as surprised as you that Jeb would want to hang out, but I guess we both have the Florida/Texan thing in common and he wanted to see how I'm adapting to the new state. Okay, not really, but it sounds cooler to say it that way. Actually I had the chance attend the Comerica Bank business forum and Jeb Bush was the speaker. He was a very engaging speaker, and not afraid to say things that could be considered controversial. I thought I'd share some of his points.

- Take a Risk. He said that in his time as governor of Florida, he never shied away
from vetoing items that didn't make sense. His example was the alligator marketing fund. Jeb said, "We don't need to market 'em, we need to kill 'em." Basically, his point was that great things can't happen if you're not willing to go against the flow and take a risk.

-Ask the "Why not" question. When someone has a new idea about how to make things better, it's easy to dismiss because it's different. He suggests that any time new ideas come into play, ask "why shouldn't we do it?" It might be surprising what ends up getting changed.

-Have a BHAG. BHAG stands for 'Big Hairy Audacious Goal'. Some of his while he was in office included education, and energy security. BHAG's are goals that you can't achieve on your own. It will take many people working together.

-Stick with it. Focus on the long term, not the immediate.

-Listen before you communicate. He says in this complex world listening is becoming a lost art. Make it a point to hear what others are saying before you begin to speak.

-Integrity and Authenticity Matter. This one resonated with me. He said, "Say what you're going to do, and then do what you said." Seems pretty simple, but especially in politics it's been proven to not always happen.

I enjoyed my lunch with Jeb. I hope he calls again sometime.