Tag Archives: decisions


I have been talking all day with people about how.

There have been some conversations about what, and part of a conversation about whether, but underlying it all have been conversations about how.

How to decide, how to respond, how to understand, how to sort through.

I talked with a good friend this morning.  We talked about how to survive when more people want your input. It is, of course, possible to tell them what to do. Eventually, however, you run out of time and strength and even desire. And the more you are about caring for people, the more likely it is that you will begin to look uncaring.

So I said, “make a list of the basic things that are how you decide. Bullet points, not essays. List the things that are on the notecard in your head when you weigh choices, when you think through how to answer a question.”

photo with sign saying focus means picking one thing at a timeAnd then, as often happens, I walked into another conversation to test my own assignment. I found myself saying, “Get a bid from the place across the street. If it is within $100 of the place 25 minutes away, take it. Your time and the disruption of your time, is worth way more than the $100. Sometimes the opportunity cost is more important than the dollar cost.”

“But what about yesterday?” he said. “Why did you say to check at the further place and then send me to save only $40?”

So I explained. (One trip yesterday and shorter. Two trips for today’s project, and the need for another driver to pick him up and deliver him.)

He understood.

And I had taught two things: how to weigh costs and how to respond to someone who reports to you.

I knew I was teaching how. I had been reminded of the importance of teaching how an hour before. I knew that I had to do the thing that I said to do. And I realized that I should have explained how yesterday.

And now I’m on my way to making a list of some other principles of how.

Make sense?

More on this soon.


back to school

I was talking with a friend the other day about life. The question on the table, distilled down, was this: if you aren’t the boss, what are you in charge of?

It’s a question I understand well, given that I consistently find myself in what has been called, “the second chair.” I know everything that our cultures teach us about being leaders, about setting vision, about moving to the top, about being in charge. Even when those in charge talk about everyone being important to the team, there is an implicit bias toward the top.

And yet, I am in the second chair. And I enjoy it.

But I still struggle with the position and vision thing, knowing how to fit. So I told my friend, “Here’s what I know but don’t do often enough.” (Having said that, I knew that I was going to have to write and confess and change.)

Rather than focusing on job change and career paths and who’s in what chair, I need to focus on me.

1. What skills can’t I change? What am I not built to do, no matter what? Be honest. Quit trying to compare. (This takes accountability)

2. What skills am I coasting on? Where am I going for the easy A, the low-hanging fruit? If I can crank out blog posts without even thinking about it, maybe I could be pushing those skills a little harder? (This takes encouragement)

3. What skills can I develop? Has someone said to me, “I wish I could do that” and I’ve not believed that they could be serious? What do I know I could do with a little effort? (This takes mentoring)

I used the word skills. I include attitudes, patterns, habits, methods of cooking, ways of responding in conversation, flossing daily, amount of time feeling obligated to pray in a particular way, frequency of emailing family and friends, number of references to sock puppets in a given conversation, ability to put yourself down, number of times looking for traces of comments about yourself on the social media dashboards, willingness to move from yes/no answers toward answers that actually let someone know what is happening in your heart and head, willingness to be brief.

Nothing new here. You can fill in references to books talking about strengths and self-improvement and all that stuff.

But there is a new calendar page and a new season and the last quarter of the year. So what if we spent this month stopping struggling with one skill expectation we’re not built to do, doing something new with one thing we are great at, and intentionally developing, with the help of a mentor, one skill.

Want to go back to school with me?