Camel Choking, Creativity & Productivity

I want to introduce you to the gentle art and joy of camel choking.

It’s transformative – particularly in the spheres of creativity and productivity.

It’s an ancient art. And true Masters are rare.

But we’ll come back to our humping friends later.

Speaking of friends, I’ve just come back from spending two days at my best friend’s house. She probably wouldn’t describe herself as having the gift of hospitality. But she’s always been beautifully hospitable to me.

It’s been thirty years this year since we first travelled overseas together. We discovered a lot about each other on that trip. She knows me. And she loves me.

Her prophetic hospitality preemptively provides what I want without me even having to ask.

But this morning as we were leaving, I realised I’d never been through her front door. I asked if I could use the front door on my next visit. Her husband said “No. Only people who are selling something come to the front door. All our friends and family know to use the backdoor.”

Stories are like that. They have a creative backdoor way of accessing parts of our heart that are intimate. Statements and strangers might try and knock on the obvious entrance way. But they’ll be left on the front porch with their pitch. They’ll never know the real way to get inside us. They’ll never be invited to relax and hang out with us on the back deck overlooking the lemon tree and other things we’re nurturing in our private garden.

Maybe that’s why Jesus made up so many stories.

But He also warned us not to neglect the front doors – the obvious pathways – the things designed specifically to be entered into first.

Can you imagine if Jesus was a full-time blogger? I love the language and imagery He used to describe our very human ability to miss the bleeding obvious.

“… you are blind! Think about a man picking a little fly out of his drink and then swallowing a camel! You are like that.” (Matthew 23:24 ERV)

I’m starting to realise I catch too many flies. And I inadvertently swallow too many camels.

Camels are designed specifically to be too large and too lumpy to sip down without realising it. And yet, sometimes, I do.

I get so consumed with the tiny fly details of everyday life that I overlook the obvious. I drink in negativity and stress all too easily and i neglect to pause and recognise the positivity and productivity that’s found in the bigger issues of life.

Lately, I’m determined to choke on the camels.

One of the large and lumpy things I think I’ve missed, is the very first verse in the Bible.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created…. 

There was darkness and chaos and lack, but God created something beautiful.

He didn’t try to make the best of a bad situation. He created a new situation.

Another version translates Jesus words as “you are straining at gnats”. Part of the flies in my drink are when I’m straining … straining to be more patient, less judgemental, more kind and loving.

All the things that I know Jesus displayed.

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the “exact representation” of God (Hebrews 1:3 NIV).

But why am I straining to be more patient and less judgemental when the front door that God created for me to enter into first was the door of creativity?

The first time God mentioned love, prayer, scriptures, church, faith and patience are practically light years away. But He shows off His creativity in the first verse.

If you’ll make time for church and prayer and scripture – you’ll do well.  But can you first create a little more time in your schedule for creating? I promise you it’ll be transformative if you do!

The exact representation of God must first be creating. And when I look at His exact representation Jesus was creating all the time. Some of His best creative works were His stories.

If being a creator is the front door of being more Godly, then creating stories is the front door of being a creator.

I have no idea (let alone any other of the required capabilities) how to create a whole universe. But even children can create a story.

One time when I was a children’s church leader, I was putting up the Christmas tree and one of my toddler congregation, Naomi, came in not long after I had just started. Curious about the still bare tree, she asked me “where are the decorations and the presents?”

Feigning a panic, I invited her to be my co-creative and solve our universe of the darkness, chaos and lack.  “Oh no – there’s no tinsel and no presents! What are we going to do?”

She took it all in her stride. She shrugged her shoulders and held up both hands. Then emphatically said “It’s okay. We can just pretend we’ve got them.” Then, clearly satisfied with her solution, she joyously skipped outside again.

The story she’d told herself was one where the lack of presents and tinsel didn’t exist anymore. She’d created a pretend universe where “we’ve got them”.

If creativity is the front door of Godliness, and stories are the front door of creativity, then the story of the seed is the front door of stories.

The Parable of the Sower, as it’s more commonly known, was a story Jesus specifically designed to be the large and lumpy first thing we enter into.

“Jesus told them: If you don’t understand this story, you won’t understand any others.” (Mark 4:13 CEV).

This story is kingdom kindergarten. It is an opportunity to find the ideal way to multiply. The first few times, the sower failed. He failed to find a place where his seed could do what seeds are designed to do – reproduce themselves; in other words create something new – the exact representation – from the old.

The camel is obviously to create a copy. That’s what great about stories. They are highly leveraged – they can be copied over and over and over again – for free. I’m still copying this story a couple of thousand of years later – talk about reaping a harvest!

Thousands of year before Jesus told this story, this was the first commandment that God gave us (before He gave us any of the more famous commandments).

Genesis 1:27-29 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

Our design, our blessing, our gifts are all about productivity; to be fruitful and multiply, to be seeds who create trees and produce fruit that yields seed … copying ourselves to create a new generation of copiers.

Patience, and all those other Christ-like characters are fruit. They are reproduced. They are created copies. They can’t come from spending our time straining, only by creating. When we do the creating part, they are the natural, joyous ending. If we try to achieve them outside of the creative process – it’s like trying to produce an orange without an orange seed – it’s at least straining and stressful, if not impossible!

I shouldn’t be straining at the gnats of impatience in my life. They should be swallowed up. By what? By the large and lumpy works of creativity that I’m producing. My camels should be huge enough to be a choking hazard for anyone!

When I see Jesus interacting with people, He doesn’t seem to be straining at their gnats, He seems to be creating. When people are hungry, He reproduces lunch. When people were maimed, He creates limbs. When people are hurt, he creates love. When people have died, He creates life.

Sometimes, He’s creating curiosity, then surprise, and healing, like with the woman at the well. Jesus enjoyed that so much, He skipped a meal to do it. There’s a bouyancy that creativity brings that’s better than breakfast!

When He first called the professional fisherman, He created a great catch of instant income for them. In the same place they’d ended up broke the last time they tried it, He created so much their nets broke! When it was tax time, He created their tax money.

When those same fisherman saw Him walking on the waves, they were terrified. He turned their fears into an invitation to have fun when He said to Peter, “Come!’.

Lunch, love, life, limbs, curiosity, surprise, income, fun…. It may seem obvious, but what if being more Godly was just about ignoring all the gnats you’re not and choking on the camel of creativity? For God, it was just the beginning… and it brought about a total transformation. I wish you a new beginning – not just in your personal relationships but in your business productivity and income, too.

For me, I’m spending a lot of time in kingdom kindergarten – story-telling. Making stuff up is way more fun than straining to be patient. As I’ve started treating everyone I meet like they are a patient who’s just entered my creativity clinic, being patient has become a tiny gnat issue. I’m rediscovering what a joy it is to truly live like Jesus – not just for me – but for all those around me. I’m gonna make more stuff up!

Kisses, cupcakes, comedy, camel stories… What will you create for the next person you meet?

 

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5 Profit Lessons From Silicon Valley

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a propensity to teach. Even before I started school, I somehow knew that a teacher stood out the front and talked while everyone else listened. I wanted to be the person others listened to. As a four year old it had nothing to do with money or profits, I just enjoyed teaching. So I would line up all my dolls and teach them. Inevitably, they were naughty (I don’t know where I picked up such a foreign concept from 😉 so I would smack their tiny, plastic bottoms!

Two weeks ago I spent time in Silicon Valley and I didn’t sit in a classroom, but I learned lessons that I’d never heard anyone else talk (or write) about.

  1. Size Matters
    The most overwhelming first impression was how HUGE everything was. I felt really tiny all of a sudden, like a four year old in a world of adults. Google, Facebook and Apple all have massive properties. I knew they were global companies and that their headquarters would be big. But there is not just one large building, there is campus after campus, building after building, facility after facility. At Google for example, you’ll need a cycle to move between all the locations which sprawl out over Mountain View.
    Creating a sense of scale, helps profits by giving your customers confidence.
  2. Security Matters
    These tech giants are not just concerned with keeping their software secure, they all have a very visible army of security guards physically protecting their properties. You are not allowed into any of their buildings. You are instructed to just take a photo and move on. And it’s even more pronounced in Silicon Beach (in Los Angeles’ Venice Beach area). Google’s offices don’t even have a logo. And Snapchat’s headquarters has no logo, frosted glass windows and security guards.
    Creating a sense of security, helps profits by giving your employees a sense of confidence.
  3. Real Estate Matters
    Google especially, and to a lesser extent Facebook and Apple have leveraged their income streams into successful investments in real estate. Google owns much more real estate than the offices that their more than 50,000 employees turn up to every weekday. In fact, they own more than 10% of all real estate in the neighborhood. There are places you can stand in Silicon Valley where Google is the owner of everything as far as the eye can see.
    Creating a sense of permanency, helps profits by giving your investors a sense of confidence.
  4. Education Matters
    Facebook is the favourite choice of the big three, especially among women, who want to work with Sheryl Sandberg, and everyone who wants a healthy work/life balance (the sprawling employee carpark is empty on the weekend). Apparently, for every one job opening at Facebook, an average of 10,000 applications pour in. Apple has a reputation for attracting those who love design and want to be the best, but different… even though there is a lot of pressure and constant deadlines. Google has high pressure deadlines too. I was told that “Push” is the favourite word of managers there. And the carpark is sadly full on the weekend. But it is the place you go, if you want to get the best training and development. The Education you receive at Google is *almost* as good as students receive at the nearby campus of Stanford University. All three of the giants benefit from this local pool of students where the campus is packed with motivational banners saying things like “Change the world!”
    Creating a culture of learning helps profits by giving suppliers a sense that you will continue growing.
  5. Location Matters
    I once read that the quickest way to acquire any skill is by association. I’ve read many times that you are the sum of the five people who most associate with. That’s why where you locate yourself matters. Silicon Valley has an entire ecosystem of potential customers, employees, investors, suppliers and entrepreneurs. You can go into just about any cafe (and savvy journalists and bloggers often do) and hear conversations about technology, business and growth. In this environment becoming profitable is so easy it can happen almost accidentally .
    Choosing a strategic location helps profits by giving owners a sense that you are surrounded by profits. And I learnt that teachers don’t always have a classroom: sometimes just associating yourself with success, can teach you much more than a smack on a plastic bottom.

If you want to chat about how you can apply these lessons from Silicon Valley unicorns to your specific business, go to the start working with Shaz page.

Silicon Valley tech tour

Master of Scale

One of my favourite podcasts is Masters of Scale, where Reid Hoffman (Venture Capitalist and co-founder of Linked In) interviews entrepreneurs about how they scaled.

There’s lots of great lessons every episode, that I won’t try to recreate here – it’s worth a listen.

But it always reminds me what a BIG thinker God is.

No, for all the nations of the world
    are but a drop in the bucket.
They are nothing more
    than dust on the scales.
He picks up the whole earth
    as though it were a grain of sand.
Isaiah 40:15

Just picture that for a minute…. God picking up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand balancing on the tip of his finger….

The truth is the journey for most entrepreneurs involves growing your capacity so that things that used to seem way too big for you to handle, become so easy to handle, it’s like flicking a grain of sand off the end of your finger.

You have to stretch your mindset, exercise your faith, grow your skills, enlarge your ability to deal with finances and much more.

The area that I see first-time entrepreneurs struggle the most is with people skills. Leading a team of people ain’t easy. It just ain’t. But the way you steward people is often the most limiting factor in the scale your business grows to.

Allow your team members to be late, annoying, sick, make mistakes, lacking in talent and disappointing. Because guess what? That’s how you got here, too.

I’m really good at spotting talent. And I’m good at recruiting and developing talent. Mainly because of all the mistakes I’ve made in these areas!

One of the best techniques I’ve learnt, is to look at the other person and repeat in your mind “We need you”. And smile. We are one body. We need each other. Any other mindset is truly a deception.

Often, the reason people seem to be “more trouble than they’re worth” is because they’re not yet in the right spot. An eye is really useful when it’s helping you to see. But if you’re trying to walk on it, it will seem really painful just to be around.

Jesus knew that leaving the 99 to recover the 1 was the only way to ensure His flock would grow into a multi-generational, global flock. We need that cheeky little sheepy baa baa on board. We’re all the better for being together.

So it might be time to do a team audit. Is everyone displaying they’re worth? Are they providing value to others? If they’re not, it’s up to you to unlock their value. How? Usually, by assigning them to a new project, a new team, a new context. How do you choose that new role?

Wait for it. It will shock you. Ask THEM!

And then LISTEN to them. And give them honest appreciation and feedback.

The writer of Hebrews doesn’t say “Don’t neglect the gathering of yourselves together…” He says “Don’t neglect the assembling of yourselves together.” Hebrews 10:25

If you’re the key to growth (and you are), your role is to approach the organisation like an orchestra. You have to make sure all the violinists are sitting together so they’re not poking out the trumpet player’s eye every time they play.

Even if growth isn’t your role, if you are answering phones but you’d rather be blogging or coding a website, help yourself, your organisation, and everyone else around you, by letting them know. There maybe some timing issues, but the sooner you let your team leader know, the sooner you can become a functional part of the assembly.

Success is funny. It’s like putting together a Swiss watch. Your assembly shouldn’t have even one screw loose. You might need to use tiny tweezers and a magnifying glass. Assemble it to be a finely honed machine – not losing a second – “working like clockwork”.

That’s the irony of thinking big. Scale is about being able to handle the whole earth as if it is a tiny, delicate, detailed grain of sand. Getting the details right is what allows you to go global at staggering speed.

Jesus commissioned us to go into all the WORLD = BIG thinking….
and make disciples = SMALL doing.

On the first episode of the Masters of Scale podcast, the co-founder and CEO of global growth Godzilla AirBnB, Brian Chesky, summed it up this way “In order to scale you have to do things that don’t scale”.

 

1,200 Times More Profits (in less than an hour)

Recently, I’ve been reminded of the old adage “time is money”.

On two separate occasions, with vastly different people, I asked a question where the answer was binary – only two possible options.

Or so I thought.

Both people actually must have heard me ask “what completely irrelevant topic is so important to you that you want to talk about it for forty minutes and avoid answering my question altogether?”

I’m sure of that, because that’s exactly what they did.

So, they turned a question which could have easily been answered in 4 seconds and instead spent 600 times as long not answering it. 

But remember this wasn’t 600 times of just their time alone, they wasted 600 times of my time, too. 

What if a third or fourth person were involved?

If someone wanted to rob your money instead of your time would you let them? 

If I told you there was a way I could make you 1,200 times more profitable, you’d probably be really happy. If I told you all you had to do was shutup, maybe a little less happy…

This reminds me of when Jesus was at Mary & Martha’s house. Martha was really busy – run off her feet – doing loads of things. 

None of which were necessary.

Mary was only doing one thing, and it was the only thing that was needed.

Like most people who are using their time ineffectively, Martha tried to recruit others into her fruitless panic.

When Martha complained how busy she was, Jesus basically told her there was no need to be busy at all.

I don’t think Martha would’ve been very happy with that. But it was probably the best piece of advice she would ever hear.

Is it possible you could be one thousand times less busy and you don’t even know it?

Is there a more profitable way to spend your time? And the time of those around you? 

Maybe, it’s time to spend some time examining how you spend your time. 

There could be a 120,000% increase in profits waiting for you, less than an hour away, right under your nose (literally). 

7 Bible Verses for Business Owners

  1. Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
    Not everything that has a beginning is great, but everything that is great has a beginning – make sure 2017 is beginning with God.
  2. Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
    If things aren’t working for you, it’s probably because they’re not working together. Make sure your systems create synergy.
  3. 1 Samuel 21:8 And David said to Ahimelech, “Is there not here on hand a spear or a sword? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.”
    Speed is often a better weapon than a sword or a spear. Make sure your systems can respond to changing circumstances with haste.
  4. Luke 19:23 ‘Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
    Jesus suggested to even the wicked servant that he should have used systems where profit grows instantly, continuously and effortlessly, like interest at the bank.
  5. Deuteronomy 8:18 “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
    Simply remembering can create wealth. Make sure your systems include reminders so the important things don’t get forgotten and do create wealth.
  6. Habakkuk 2:2 Then the Lord answered me and said:
    “Write the vision

    And make it plain on tablets,
    That he may run who reads it.”
    Making things plain is powerful – it can turn readers into runners. Ensure your systems bring simplicity, not complexity, so they power up your profits.
  7. Isaiah 48:17 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.
    God could have chosen any method of helping us to profit, but He chose to be the teacher; the fastest path to profit is teaching. Make sure your systems include leading others so they know the ideal way to go.

The ideal way to get more bible-based resources to create prosperity for business owners, leaders and managers, is to apply now to start working with Shaz Jones in 2017.

 

Attention please…

I was 12. In my first year of high school. Learning new subjects, compulsory subjects that I had no interest in.

The first word I learned in German was “Achtung”.

My teacher was very fond of saying it.

I’d heard it in the war movies my dad was fond of, too.

Little did I know how important “attention”, in any language, would become in my life.

Today’s economy, including vast tech profits from blogging and social media, is predicated on this oh so powerful concept.

If people aren’t paying attention to you, they won’t be paying money to you, or anything else, either.

Like him or loathe him, Donald Trump, is brilliant at getting attention. In television, real estate and presidential campaigns, the ability to garner attention is one of the key drivers of success. And, as Donald has discovered more recently, attention is a double-edged sword that can just as easily bring failure.

Whilst you’re reading this you’re probably not paying attention to the temperature your skin is feeling, how hungry your stomach is, the smell of your body odour, the taste of the saliva in your mouth, the way your face is resting, the sounds surrounding you and a thousand other things. The Reticular Activating System in your brain has filtered them out so you can focus your attention on learning (great decision by the way! ;-).

Have you ever had the experience where you’ve bought a new car or new dress and then suddenly you see it appearing everywhere? It’s not because they weren’t there before. It’s just that now you’ve started paying attention, you can see what has always been there. It’s the job of the brain to *not* notice most things. You are receiving information on things all the time – and 99.9% of things are filtered out from your attention automatically by the brain.

In the bible, the word “attention” is used more in Proverbs than in any other book. The writer of Proverbs was the wisest man in all the world. He urges us to pay attention to wisdom, understanding, words of instruction.

King Solomon also warns kings that when the leader is paying attention to lies it can multiply results and transform all of his team into “wicked” servants. Be very careful about placing the full force of your organisation on something that no-one should be paying attention to.

Where you place your attention  is a fundamental tenet of wisdom. If you use your attention wisely, strategically, it can radically transform your results.

I’m amazed what most people *think* is their biggest problem. It might be their weight, their debt, their back pain, their partner. But really, the source of most of these problems, is that they are paying attention to the wrong things. Even the fact that they think these problems are their biggest problem is, more often than not, the cause as well as the symptom of their real problems. And usually it is also blocking them from seeing the solutions they need.

Political campaigners know that there are all kinds of things we can give attention to; sex, sports, stocks, soap operas… We can get all caught up in gossip, criticism, fear… and politics.

Or we can give our attention to faith, opportunities, success, profits, the best in people, things we can be thankful for, tolerance, patience, amazing grace, love.

Every day, every second really, you have a fresh opportunity to choose where to place your attention. Do it strategically, and you’ll find that one act alone will transform your results.

If I haven’t said it to you before, thank you for reading. I appreciate your attention.

 

Why Vision-casting is so Powerful and Productive

Robert Redford, Steve Jobs, David Cameron… all the best leaders spend at least some of their time casting vision.

But why? What is it about vision-casting that is so productive for already powerful, global leaders?

vision

Well, firstly, vision effects outcome. And sometimes the stakes can be really high. Consider Britain’s decision this week on whether to remain or leave the European Economic Union.

The future of an entire nation changed in one day. Powerful!

On the other side of the world, Australian shares lost $50 billion of value in shock.

The question of whether to stay or “Brexit” was quintessentially a question of vision. What kind of future did the people of Britain want? A future based on the possibilities of partnership with their powerful neighbours in Europe, or the freedom and control of a self-reliant future.

To cast their competing visions, leaders travelled the length and breadth of the country, several times over, to meet with people personally. Yes, there were brochures, and media appearances and social media campaigns, but the majority of time spent by the leaders was spent in front of a voter’s face.

At first glance, especially from a time-management point of view, this might seem like an incredibly unproductive thing to do. Why shake one person’s hand, when you could tweet to twenty million during that same time? Why address a small community meeting of eighty entrepreneurs in a tiny village when you could instead be interviewed on BBC broadcasting to eight million viewers?

Even Donald Trump, who doesn’t like shaking hands with anyone, and will (*probably) tell you himself “I’ve made a lot of money in media, I’m very good on television. I translate very well on Twitter”, has spent months out on the road criss-crossing America with personal appearances.

It’s all about the Proximity of Presence. There’s something about being in the presence of the vision-holder that doesn’t quite transcend into traditional and social media. Blogs and those other channels are great supplements, reminders and reinforcements, but for truly productive vision-casting think Michelle Pfeifer and Robert Redford – try and get all Up Close and Personal. (Yes, I realise the irony of quoting a non-personal appearance to encourage personal appearances 😉

Okay, so we’ve answered why vision-casting is necessary (the stakes are high), we’ve answered how to do it (up close and personal). But why does it work so effectively?

Here’s how Steve Jobs answered that question:

vision
If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you. #quote Steve Jobs

Ephron W. Taylor said it  this way. “Define the vision (this is the seed of self-leadership)”.

Leaders multiply into more leaders through vision-casting. Leaders help you lead yourself, and ultimately lead others, by planting and nourishing vision.

If a leader can plant the seed of vision in you, she doesn’t have to spend mountains of energy or time to motivate you towards success, that seed will grow generations of motivation in you, from the inside out. You’ll probably even start dropping seeds in your own network of contacts.

Vision is the ultimate leverage. You’ll achieve much more, with much less, if you cast vision seeds that grow into their own orchards of vision in others. And it’s massively scaleable – vision can multiply rapidly.

So next time you are talking with someone you want to work with, think of the weird old Christmas Carol lyric:

Do you see what I see?” (it also talks about lambs, talking wind, and stars with tails who have apparently gone out for a disco – probably best NOT to think about those things if you want your vision to sound credible 😉

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
do you see what I see
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
do you see what I see
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite

The vision locomotive just pulled an entire nation into massive change in one day – such massive and quantifiable change it had billions of dollars of economic impacts in the hip pockets of investors on the other side of the world. And that’s just day one of the changes.

 

If you want your work to produce such powerful and productive effects, lead with your hand. Get off the computer for a change and go and shake someone’s hand. Because if we can learn anything from sexy Robert Redford, it’s that even the most visionary leaders look better up close and personal.

 

Growing 120x in 12 weeks

Multiplying is something I love. I think, actually, that’s what is at the core of my fascination with technology.

My current project involves working with an organisation that grows from about 800 people to 97,000 people in just 12 weeks.That’s a pretty rapid and radical multiplication!

Growing an organisation by more than one hundred times in less than three months is a strange mix of excitement, frustration and chaos.

Oh and did I mention that even though we are increasing the people by 12,000% we’re only increasing the budget by 50%?

Systems that are designed to serve 800 people don’t work well when you suddenly try to make them serve 97,000 people.

But if I could only change one thing in this whole organisation to make the best outcome for the least effort, I wouldn’t change the budget, I’d change just this …

Q U E E N C E S

I made a video about this 7 years ago …

  • how queences can help you do impossible things
  • how queences can bring order into chaos
  • how queences can explain why two people doing the same things with the same resources can have radically different results