What Will You Do? [Guest Post]

John Perkins was Chief Economist at a major international consulting firm where he advised the World Bank, United Nations, the IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Since then, his books have sold more than 1 million copies and been printed in over 30 languages.  He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, NPR, A&E, the History Channel, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Der Spiegel, and many other publications. He is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, nonprofits devoted to establishing a world our children will want to inherit. His new book, The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, can be found on Amazon.

*****

It has been nearly twelve years since the release of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. People have wondered how the publication of that book has affected me and what I am doing to redeem myself and change the EHM system. They have also questioned what they themselves can do to help turn the system around. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is my answer.

Once I left my old life as an economic hit man, I knew I had to do whatever I could to redeem myself for my sins and to make a world my daughter and all children would want to inherit. I asked: What can I do? Now it is time for you to ask the same question. Your gifts, passions, and skills have given you the tools you need to create a better world. Will you? I hope you enjoy this short glimpse into chapter 46 of the book and the events that became my confessions.

I’d like say a special thanks to Joshua Lee Henry for his support of my new release and for his willingness to post this on his blog. I hope you’ll connect with me on Twitter and Facebook!

What Will You Do?

This book has described the four pillars of modern empire: fear, debt, insufficiency (the temptation to keep consuming more), and the divide-and-conquer mind-set. The idea that anything and everything is justified—coups and assassinations, drone strikes, NSA eavesdropping—as long as it props up those four pillars has shackled us to a feudal and corrupt system. It is a system that cannot be sustained.

We must do whatever it takes to change the dream behind such justifications; to convert fear into the courage to create a better world; to replace debt with generosity, insufficiency with the knowledge that a life economy provides sustainable abundance for all; and to replace the divide-and-conquer mentality with compassion for others and a commitment to uniting as a crew that will navigate this space station toward a truly prosperous future.

During my travels, one of the things I hear from people is that Confessions of an Economic Hit Man “connects the dots.” In 2004, those dots led to the conclusion that people had been terribly misinformed about how the United States and its corporations deceive, abuse, and exploit economically developing countries. The post-2004 dots go much further. They lead us to the conclusion that we in the United States and in the rest of the so-called developed countries also have been hit—we have been abused and exploited by many of the tools I and other EHMs used in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.

Connecting the post-2004 dots leads to the additional conclusion that we must do whatever it takes to change. We must act.

Such actions start with the recognition that we are presented with many choices throughout life. Fate. Chance. Accident. Opportunity. We can see these things as good or bad. What is important is not so much that they happen as how we react to them.

I once accepted $500,000 to not write a book. I chose to use the money to help people in countries I’d exploited. Out of that came my reconnection with Amazonian people, the formation of several nonprofits, and a new career as a writer and public speaker.

When we look at things that happen to us as neither good nor bad but simply as bearers of messages, we open doors of opportunity for action.

The earth is offering us a strong message. The ice caps and glaciers are melting. The oceans are rising. Species are going extinct. This planet, our home, is demanding that we see her as a living Earth. She is not just a mass of rock and soil spinning around an indifferent sun. She is a biological member of a living universe. And she is sending a message: repent, reform, love her.

What will we do with that message, you and I?

****

During the 12 years since the publication of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the world has changed radically. I am excited to share with you how economic hit men and jackal assassins have spread to the U.S. and the rest of the planet and what we all can do to stop them and to create a better world. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an expanded and updated edition that includes 15 explosive new chapters. It also provides detailed strategies each and every one of us can employ to avert the crises looming before us. To learn more please visit http://www.johnperkins.org, and join me in moving not just into ‘sustainability’ but also into ‘regenerating’ devastated environments.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Setting a Foundation for Courage [Guest Post]

This post is an excerpt from the book Courage Goes to Work by Bill Treasurer. This book is included in BKpedia, a new digital subscription service from Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Please visit bkpedia.bkconnection.com for graphics, tweets, and other resources.

Setting a Foundation for Courage

People won’t start being courageous just because you tell them to. You’ve got to create an environment that encourages them to extend themselves and take chances. There are four actions you need to take before expecting people to be more courageous. These four actions constitute the Courage Foundation Model, and they follow a specific order.

The first action deals with role modeling, or what I call Jumping First. Why on earth would you expect people to be courageous if you yourself are wimpy? Your own courageous actions will have the biggest impact on people’s willingness to be courageous.

The second action deals with creating safety. People won’t take chances unless they have at least some degree of support from you. Getting people to take big leaps requires putting some safety nets in place to soften their landing.

Action number three deals with putting fear to work. Few things are as potent as fear in causing people to be risk averse. But fear has energy. Properly harnessed, fear’s energy can be used to help people accomplish and overcome the very thing that may be inspiring their fear. The third action of the Courage Foundation Model is about harnessing fear.

The final action in the model deals with adjusting the degree of comfort and discomfort that workers experience. The idea is to slowly but persistently stretch workers’ capacity to deal with uncomfortable situations by assigning them incrementally greater challenges. Doing so causes them to exert more courage in order to meet the challenging assignments.

Courageously Fearful

As a former member of the U.S. High Diving Team, I learned firsthand the benefits of moving past my comfeartable tendencies. Every day for seven years I would climb to the top of a hundred-foot high-dive ladder (the equivalent of a ten-story building) and stand atop a one-foot-by-one-foot perch. Then, after a quick prayer, I would leap into the air like an eagle taking flight. Except eagles soar upward. I never did. I would always go down, careening at speeds of over fifty miles per hour into a pool that was only ten feet deep. Fifteen hundred high dives, all done with no parachute, no bungee, and no safety gear. Just me, a thin coat of sunscreen, and a Speedo.

The fact that I was a high diver doesn’t qualify me to write about courage. The fact that I was a high diver who is afraid of heights does. Becoming a high diver was a culmination of a series of things I did to engage with, learn from, and ultimately dominate my fear of heights. Many of the lessons I learned from this experience are chronicled in my first book, Right Risk: 10 Powerful Principles for Taking Giant Leaps with Your Life (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2003). The book’s front cover has a picture of me diving while on fi re. No kidding.

The experience and personal benefits I gained from dominating my fears taught me the supreme value of courage. While I am hardly the patron saint of courageous acts, I cherish courage above all other virtues. I have the Gaelic word for courage, misneach, prominently tattooed on my upper back . . . it helps remind me of my feisty Celtic heritage. Also, I am the only person in North Carolina to have a courage license. More specifically, my personalized North Carolina license plate is the word COURAGE (wave if you pass me!). Finally, three years ago, I forced a little courage on my family, moving us away from most of my clients in Atlanta, Georgia, and up to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. Why? So that we could all live more sanely . . . and pry ourselves loose from Atlanta’s traffic lunacy.

As someone who once found courage only in adrenaline-pumping and spine-tingling situations, I can now say unequivocally that courage is not limited to extreme feats of bravery. The most important lesson my clients have taught me is this: Courage is accessible to everyone. Not just the daredevils among us.

*****

Bill Treasurer is founder and chief encouragement officer at Giant Leap Consulting (www.giantleapconsulting.com), a courage-building company that helps people and organizations be more courageous. Among his clients are Accenture, CNN, EarthLink, SPANX, the Centers for Disease Control, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is the author of Right Risk and the chief editor of Positively M.A.D. Prior to founding Giant Leap, Treasurer was the captain of the U.S. High Diving Team and performed over 1,500 dives from heights that scaled to over 100 feet (sometimes on fire!).

 

BKpedia

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Serve the Few, First [Guest Post]

Kenneth R. Jennings is a best-selling author, speaker, and active consultant in organizational leadership, serving as Chairman of Third River Partners. John Stahl-Wert is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and expert in growing great leaders, serving as Director of the Center for Serving Leadership. Together they co-authored The Serving Leader – now revised and updated for the 10th Anniversary Edition and available on Amazon.

The following is excerpted from their book, The Serving Leader. In this excerpt, Mike, who has been called to help his dying father’s leadership project, goes to visit a company whose leadership style has been an influential part of his father’s project. His guide, Ali, is his father’s colleague.

Serve the Few, First

Arriving at a series of low-slung buildings, we were greeted at the door by Stephen Cray, one of the CEOs I had met the day before.

“Hi, guys!” he said. “Glad to see you again, Mike. Come on into my office.”

“Stephen,” I said, “you already know that I’m on a bit of a mission to understand the elements of being an effective Serving Leader. I have to confess, though, that I don’t know a lot about biotechnology. What I’m interested in,” I pressed on, once we were all seated and served, “is how your company understands and practices leadership.”

Stephen replied, “At BioWorks, we believe that the big key is selecting the right people to join the team, those with the right skills and values, those who embrace our purpose of creating energy and making a difference in our communities.”

I was listening intently, the hint of a question beginning to form behind the crease lines of my forehead.

“We’re extremely disciplined about selection because we operate at a very high standard here. Frankly, it’s hard to get into this company. We assess our recruits against a number of key competencies and values that have proven to be predictive of success in our organization. We do exhaustive interviews with candidates to see how they line up against those competencies and values. We push candidates to describe their specific behaviors and accomplishments in each of these areas. If they score well across all of them, they make it through our first screen.”

Stephen grinned again, clearly aware of the growing frown on my face and of how high a standard he was describing.

“After that,” he continued, unfazed, “candidates are interviewed by the people they’ll work with. The team takes this very seriously. The interview is low key, but they’re looking for the intangibles, candidates’ values and their ability to work on a team. We look to see if they can add something positive to the culture here. Finally, we do exhaustive checks of external references. Like I said, we’re picky.” He laughed again, disarming his tough message.

“I’ve got to ask you to hold up for a second, Stephen,” I finally interjected, unable to hold back my question any longer. “Ali just had me over at Aslan Industries, and I was hearing the very same thing there that I’m hearing from you. It’s paradoxical, isn’t it,” I pressed on, now quite animated, “for a Serving Leader to be so tough on selection and standards? It seems like a contradiction. Serving seems so soft and, well, loving. But all I heard from Harry Donohue at Aslan was a tough line—and now I’m hearing it again.”

Stephen gave me an emphatic nod of complete comprehension. “I know what you’re saying. And there’s surely no question whose son you are. Your dad is always talking about the paradoxes of effective Serving Leadership.

“Consider the term Serving Leadership. Two apparently contradictory words used together to create something true.”

He had me there, and we smiled at each other. I may as well get used to these puzzles. Although I’ve been an explainer for a long time, maybe some of the good stuff isn’t so easy to explain.

“I’ll put it to you plainly,” Stephen went on. “In order to serve many people, the Serving Leader must first pick just a few other leaders to serve, people who can meet the Serving Leader standard. Think about it, a Serving Leader who wants to create a powerful churn of productivity needs a team that can put itself at the full service of others. These teams, in their own turn, will serve others by building them up, and the results will keep spiraling outward. It all starts with a Serving Leader who really raises the bar.”

I grabbed my notebook and quickly jotted down Stephen’s phrase, “Raise the Bar,” and what he had just said.

“The model used by Jesus of Nazareth is instructive here,” Stephen said. “He could have chosen from thousands of his eager followers, but he chose only twelve, spending the rest of his time relating to them, serving them, and preparing them to do the very same with others. And look at the multiplied results that today validate his methodology.”

To serve the many, you first serve the few.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Think Before You Speak: The Power of the Pause [Guest Post]

Albert Einstein once said, “If I had 60 minutes to solve an important problem, I would spend 55 minutes on defining the problem and five minutes on the solution.” When it’s time to step up and lead, you can build the skills of self-awareness concerning your leadership style and mindset. When you know and understand the impact your leadership has on the situation and the people involved your likelihood of success rises significantly.

Our proposal is simple: Before you engage, you should literally pause and indulge in some structured thinking. This methodology will allow you to set yourself up for a qualitatively different experience. Instead of jumping right in and acting on instinct, reflect and ask yourself:

  • Who am I in this circumstance?
  • What is my role?
  • What outcomes are we seeking?
  • Is there anything I need to do to prepare myself to engage in this conversation powerfully?

This self-questioning can be a lot harder than it sounds. We’ve worked with countless business leaders over the years who say they understand the importance of the pause, but, when we really drill down and examine how well they use it, they actually score very poorly. We stress that it’s crucial that leaders get this step right because, without it, they’ll always be leading from behind. All too often they aren’t able to prepare themselves in the most effective way and they aren’t able to orchestrate productive interactions among colleagues and team members.

One of the reasons leaders find this process so difficult is because they’re dealing with today’s perceived speed of business, with endless to-do lists and the moment-to-moment demands that are placed on people in organizations. So many of us get caught up in that adrenaline rush to go, go, go – do, do, do. When that happens, we walk into meetings with no plan for the desired outcome. Because of the pressure for speed, we enter into conversations without an inquiring mindset that allows for fresh and relevant outcomes.

Despite these pressures, you need to think about the context and the circumstances from the outset. You want to ask yourself where this particular situation needs to conclude. Starting with the end in mind gives you clarity. A little simple preparation allows you to construct the right questions and to adapt to the right attitude in order to encourage an exchange of new ideas, innovation, and creative thinking,

Failure to plan makes you prone to what we call “triggering situations.” When people are triggered, they’re in what we call a “nowhere mindset,” and they can actually sabotage the environment with anger or other emotions. Instead of being ripe for “Possibility thinking,” the environment becomes one of blame, defensiveness, and finger pointing. Obviously, that system is not a winning model; we encourage you to stop and reflect before engaging in any meaningful engagement with colleagues, customers, suppliers, etc.

If you can take a moment to pause purposefully and formulate a plan before engaging in active questions, you augment your chances of being successful. This approach allows you to not only design a strategy to win, but also to recognize and reinforce the mindset you need have in order to foster that collaborative, one-plus-one-equals-three atmosphere.

How often do you take the time to pause and reflect in your daily activity as opposed to keeping your foot pinned to the gas pedal?

This post is an excerpt from chapter 2 of Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win.

*****

Guy Parsons is the Founder and Managing Principal of Value Stream Solutions (VSS).  Allan Milham’s work as a professional leadership and performance coach over the past 16 years has centered on using powerful questions. For Guy, 20+ years of delights and frustrations consulting with firms attempting to make operational and cultural transformations sparked an evolution in his relationship with his professional coach, Allan, and was the inspiration for Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win. Their book has sparked a new mindset and a practical approach to thriving in the competitive and evolving landscape that today’s leaders face.

 

out_of_the_question_fbad

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

God’s Beautiful, Eternal Purpose

Growing up my dad taught me that the Bible was God’s love letter to creation. As I matured and encountered love in all its various forms, like friendship, compassion, the family unit, I began to realize just how true my dad’s description of the Bible is. Like many children who were raised in the church, one of the first verses I was taught to memorize was John 3:16 “For God so loved the world…”

Frank Viola’s work From Eternity to Here presents a theology of the biblical narrative that reiterates God’s Love described in John 3:16 and His “eternal purpose” for creation, that is as divinely beautiful and romantic as it is mysterious (cf. Eph. 3:11).

God so loved the world that he has forever sought a Bride, a House, a Body, and a Family. The Church is God’s love. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Viola illuminates these four descriptions of the Church, a Bride, House, Body and Family, against the backdrop of God’s redeeming purpose found in Scripture. Viola shows that the Church is a new spiritual species, not formed from humanity’s reproduction, or fallen in the Garden of Eden, but birthed out of the womb of Christ’s pierced side.

I pray the Lord uses From Eternity to Here to share how the Bible is God’s love letter in this generation, the way my earthly dad shared God’s love with me through His Word. Understanding God’s eternal purpose has a profound effect on how believers live their faith in this world, here and now… and also into eternity.

*Author’s Note: This short blurb was originally written on May 18th, 2012, with minor edits by the author on January 25th, 2016.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Practical Discipleship and Biblical Theology

Building a Discipling Culture, by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram is by far one of the landmark books on practical discipleship. The lessons in this work are so precious because they are the result of 30 plus years of life on life discipleship. Instead of focusing on the “ABC’s” of church measurement: attendance, buildings, and cash, Breen and Cockram argue that we should focus on the only thing that Jesus counts- making disciples.

Christ’s words in the Great Commission, command believers to “go” and “make” disciples. There has to be an intentional, missional, and incarnational approach to going into the world and looking for the person of peace, and other future leaders for whom we can make as disciples. The authors advocate a three form learning method that incorporates information, an apprenticeship type access to the teacher, known as imitation, and an immersion experience in doing ministry, where innovation takes place.

The teachings on Lifeshapes and the fivefold ministry are essential to learn how make disciples in this new generation and all their principles are strongly based on biblical theology. Accountability and community are the two driving themes behind making disciples and Building a Discipling Culture.

*Author’s Note: This short blurb was originally written on May 28th, 2012 as a personal reflection on the initial 3dm material. Slight edits were made on January 25th, 2016.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Find Your “Sweet Spot” in Life

For nearly five years I was actively involved in young adult ministry: two years as a discipleship trainer in a missional program designed to equip the millennial generation as modern-day missionaries, and almost three years as the College and Young Adult pastor at an evangelical megachurch. In both these ministries I would speak at conferences, educating pastors and other leaders from the older generations on the similarities and differences of Gen. Y.

At a total North American population of close to 80 million, the “Millennials” are still very misunderstood, much like the “Yuppies”, “Hippies”, and “Flappers” of generations past. But Millennials, Gen. Y., young adults or simply “twenty-somethings” as some call them, represent a unique opportunity not only for ministry, but also in fields like medicine, science, and innovations in technology. They represent a new generation of global leaders in every sector of society.

By far the most common questions I encountered while counseling college students were questions of calling, purpose, and finding meaning in life. While there are a number of great resources that address these topics from a general stance, Quarter-Life Calling by my good friend Paul Sohn is the first book that I am aware of, to tackle the big questions of life, from the perspective of a young adult, head on.

I have known Paul for the better part of six years. We have had many great conversations and mastermind discussions about life, faith, and leadership since we first met while interacting on a blog post about Christian leadership. He is truly a dear brother in the Lord and is one of the most authoritative voices I know on discovering calling. If I had to describe Paul in one word, it would be intentional. He is intentional about adding value to others, about being salt and light, and about helping people discover their true identity in Christ. It’s no wonder that Christianity Today named his blog one of the “Top 33 Under 33 Millennials to follow”.

At a time when the Western church is at a hinge point in history. The largest generation America has ever seen is also largely missing from many church gatherings. One of the most significant findings during my immersive study into this transient generation, is that those in the Generation Y demographic are genuinely interested in spiritual matters and are searching for meaning in their life. As the research has shown, Millennials want to have an impact on the world.  That should be very encouraging for pastors and ministry leaders. Young adults are open to hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ, and now with Quarter-Life Calling 

they now have a discipleship tool to help them understand how to make a life, not just a living; how to work as worship, not as a curse; and how to make the biggest impact on others with the small dash between the numbers on their gravestones.

Let my good friend Paul Sohn speak into your life and share from his vast experiences and wisdom beyond his years. Quarter-Life Calling will help you demystify the concept of vocation, or calling, teach you how to think with your legacy in mind, and how to use your passions to serve a hurting world.

I highly recommend this amazing book, and if you are in your twenties, encourage you to read it and find your “sweet spot”.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment