Tuesday, March 19, 2019

WIFM Radio – your Transition Station

If you are in a career transition (as I am currently), tune in to WIFM.

Millennials get a bad rap for always listening to this station. However there are times where you should dial into this frequency. 

During the recruitment and interview process employers play their favourite stations. Songs about performance expectations, previous relevant experience, and the favourite country tune: “Tell me about a time when…”. Now is the time for you to play the songs from WIFM: "What's In It For Me?"

As I pursue my next vocation and encounter the recruitment processes of various organizations, the words of Dr. Nancy Adler come to mind: 

"Organizations that believe people can change emphasize training and development whereas organizations that believe people are incapable of change emphasize selection systems".   (International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior - 2008)

Getting the right answer to “What’s in it for me?” will let you know if you would be:
  • Participant in a learning organization, or...
  • Employee # __ in an organization that prefers status quo. 

If you want to determine whether the organization is one that will develop your skills and potential, below are some things to look for when you are in the process. Make the effort to interview the organization just as they are interviewing you. You could formulate questions to pose when you are in the interview, but it will likely take some personal effort beyond that by speaking to current/former employees and searching their website for any clues pointing to a learning and development culture. 

Here are some suggestions for how to assess the answer to “What’s in it for me?” 

How does the organization provide for ongoing learning and development?
  • Is there a policy, budget, expectation or a track record of time provided for ongoing learning?
  • Google their staff. Do they publish? Are they present at industry events as a participant or a presenter? 
How does this organization know you are performing well? 

Are there performance reviews? If so, how are they conducted? Here are 3 approaches I have encountered and my take on their usefulness:
  • The formal review where you are evaluated to a set of objectives laid out 6 or 12 months prior. Be cautious here – in what universe would you want to be evaluated TODAY on an issue that occurred many months ago? Unless their process has some type of ongoing, real-time adjustment to it, it’s a ‘check off the box’ exercise AND does not see you as a person-in-process.
  • The regular ‘check-in’. This may be accomplished via regularly scheduled meetings, or the informal drop-in/walkabout approach. These can be very valuable because they are real-time assessments - as long as they are a ‘check-in’ and not a ‘check-up’. The former approach is about how you are performing and discovering what you need to succeed. The latter is simply to know if you are performing to expectation. 
  • The DIY. Basically there is no performance review. Any advancement in competence or skill development is self-regulated. On the surface this sounds awesome. No accountability! High trust! Freedom! Long leash! However, the dark underbelly here is that when you are left to assess yourself, you tend to over-rate your competencies and lack the objectivity needed to assess areas for personal growth. 
What are the signs that this organization has a learning culture? 
  • What was their last failure and what did they do with it? (ignore, suck it up and move on, meet for a post-mortem to assess learnings…)
  • When they meet as teams, what is a typical agenda? Find out if this is an assessment culture or a task-list culture. 

You can go to work, or you can go to build & contribute to this world. 
Once you have made your choice, then interview the organization to find your fit. 

If you have other suggestions that would help a person tune into WIFM, please leave a post below. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Love & Vocation

Age & employment transition make interesting bedfellows.  They talk a lot to each other.  The pillow talk I hear is very intimate and reflective.

At 60, I am nowhere near done vocationally and believe I am entering my best years.  I’m not employed at the moment, so am in the process of seeking a context for my next best contribution.  In this liminal space I am reflecting on who I want to be in the next phase  One recent reflection was prompted by re-reading a classic Bible passage I have often quoted and then just as easily gloss over because of its’ familiarity.

What struck me in a fresh way as it applies to vocation, is how the passage juxtaposes the things we do alongside the context or atmosphere in which we do them.  I summarize the passage, 1 Corinthians 13, in this way:

If whatever you do to contribute to this world isn’t done with love as the key component, what you have done is either just noise or it will amount to nothing.

No matter your age, that should cause you to stand up and take notice of the way you approach work and life. Imagining myself in the next phase I ask: ”HOW will I show up”?  

Reflect with me:   
  • At the end of life, what is of greater importance: a personal legacy of love or accomplishment?
  • How would the workplace change if you expressed respect & love in tandem with advancing your goals?
  • What does it do to yours and others’ quality of life when you focus on personal/professional achievement at the expense of relationship?
  • How could you express love in a way that would make our on-line and face to face world a safer environment?

The key question to answer here is: What is love?  To start, here is how the Creator-God describes it in the passage I referenced above.  As you read this and begin to imagine the impact of its application in our current society, what’s your take on its’ impact on the atmosphere of human relationships?

Love is large and incredibly patient. 

Love is gentle and consistently kind to all.

It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else.

Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. 

Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. 

Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. 

Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. 

Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. 

Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. 

Love never stops loving.

The world desperately needs a new atmosphere – of love. 
We are choking in cynicism, competition, selfishness and hate. 
Be part of clearing the air.

Harv Matchullis - in Transition

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Trickle Down Holiness Theory

Within some Christian circles there is a 'trend' towards a deeper experience of Jesus, of holiness and renewal. In their world, conferences & seminars, websites, resources, book recommendations etc. are predominantly geared toward going deeper with Christ. It's hard to find as much emphasis on going deeper with the world and loving our nieghbour. Ironic, because the entire law of God is summed up in whether you show love for your nieghbour (Gal 5:14, Rom 13: 9-10 etc).

This 'holiness trend' has a relationship to economic 'trickle down' theory, believing that as right theology and experience of the holy is poured in, right living will result. Economic trickle down theory is a failure. There's little proof it works for discipleship.

It is in the loving of our neighbour we truly meet Jesus (Matt 25). If you want renewal and a deeper life with God, first go meet your neighbour. 

Jesus waits for you there.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Dangerous Game of Leaving a Legacy

Leadership writing and culture is laced with the pursuit of "legacy".

I have taught it, I have lived pursuing it, and I have paid for it.

For me personally, this topic is very fresh because soon I will be concluding a ministry I founded.  During this ministry-building journey I burned out in my pursuit to 'press on' and make it a legacy-making endeavor.  I blogged about this here.

Of course let's be real -  there are people we know and recognize who leave legacies that ripple across history.  I think of Paul the apostle.  His actions, the records of his pursuits & his personal writings left impact that continues to shape the world.  Amazing.  But lets be real again.  For the vast majority of us there will be no record of our contributions and no universally acknowledged legacy.  We move about in simple faithfulness, our contributions known perhaps to a small circle, and to God most certainly.

How do you feel about being mostly unknown to the world?

The answer to that question is found in shifting to a new perspective on 'legacy'.  Stop pursuing efforts so that you will be remembered.  Think about is through the largely unrecorded and unnoticed faithfulness of Gods' people that the world is changed and the Kingdom of God expands. There was only one Paul.  He didn't build the Church we see today.  God did, through billions of other followers of Jesus all through history.  They were mostly obscure and unknown , but in the hands of the Master, their 'legacy' is a global Kingdom that now permeates the planet.

I now feel this battle between legacy and obscurity more acutely now that I am about to conclude my ministry.  In the past it was a hope of mine (no, it was a driver) to "leave a legacy".  Admirable in some sense, but I have learned it is a dangerous pursuit.
Living to leave a "legacy" can be a pseudo-spiritual cover for the dangerous game of self ambition. Living for the "well done" shifts perspective and posture to that of a servant.
An important question to ask for all who follow Jesus is: Who determines legacy?  If it is you, then you better work your ass off and sacrifice everything in the pursuit of that goal.  However, if you truly believe that the Kingdom of God is actually Gods' and is therefore built according to His plans, then there is only One who determines the legacy.

Don't work to leave a legacy.  The brutal truth is that 50 years from now the world and even your family who are still alive won't remember much about you.  But God will leave a legacy through your faithfulness to whatever you put your hand to as His servant.

There is a sense of liberation that comes when you stop striving to leave a legacy.  That enables you to do something, and to do it very well.

Work for the 'well done'.

Harv Matchullis

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Dirty Jesus

He has been cleaned up beyond recognition or affinity, with us.

Neat nativities.  Crisp white linens on communion tables.  How does this remember a Jesus who came to be ‘humus’ – dirt (the root word of humanity)?

No wonder the world doesn’t identify with Him. We, His followers have cleaned Him up too much in our presentations and demonstrations.  He has become unattainable and it’s not His fault.

The real Jesus was the one who defied all convention and touched the outcasts and alienated Himself from common social and religious convention.  The real Jesus brought prostitutes, thieves and marginalized people into His regular circle of friends and followers.  He was truly dirty to the institutionalized religious establishment of the day.  He redefined how the dirty could access the divine.  Holy shit.

This is actually the Advent story.  Immanuel – God not only WITH us, but ONE of us.  Dirty humanity.

So stop purifying His image.  Put Him back where He belongs.  And if you are His follower, get out of your pious pew, your sanctuary of the sanctified and your cloister of institutional Christianity.  If the power of Christ is to make us clean, a church and a follower of Christ where no dirt is allowed is powerless.

For the love of the real God, get dirty with your fellow humans.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Trash Talk Trashes Us

I was on the NO side.  You'd think I'd feel victorious.  I don't.

Here in Calgary, we have just come through an Olympic-sized exercise of competing visions.  Do we host the 2026 winter Games or not?  As I write, it's the day after the plebescite vote.  The No side won.   One side 'defeated', the other side 'winning'.

It's sad to me that in order to achieve something, we often feel its necessary to trash and denigrate the 'other side'.  We think that to justify one perspective or vision you have to tear down the other. After the vote, one opinion editor on the YES side who writes for a major Calgary newspaper characterized the NO side as having "the cumulative vision of a blind cyclops".

This is a very human thing, exacerbated by our current culture's growing affinity for drawing hard lines and building walls.  Discussions in the realm of politics, religion, relationships, social issues and competing visions are increasingly difficult to engage without it descending into a version of tribal warfare.

I'd like to call us to Dignity and Craft in our conversations.  Choose first to start any interaction by acknowledging the inherent dignity of that individual(s).  Their (and your) worth does not rest in their opinions. It rests in a value given to them by the Creator who made them equal.  If you don't believe in a Creator, your government's constitution in most cases underscores the value and dignity of all persons.

Then let's reframe conversation as a craft.  It's an art form, not a sport where one wins and the other loses.  Through understanding, curiosity and vigorous arguments, we can create something that did not exist prior to talking.  Art.  (check out Os Guiness' book 'The Global Public Square' for some ideas on this)

Back to Calgary's Olympic issue.  We, the citizens were split 56% No to 44% Yes.  This doesn't have to be a zero-sum game where one is declared winner and one a loser.

Whether it's the Olympics or an argument over renovating the church, or developing a new project - the issue is irrelevant.  It's HOW you approach the problem that will determine whether you can bring resolution to it at all.

Trash talks trashes all of us.   Choose Dignity.  Go make some Art instead.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Future Isn't What It Used To Be

Future dreams are simply glorious.  Unburdened by reality, they float effortlessly like a balloon on a string, beckoning us to chase and capture it. Our naïveté and optimism push us toward that future despite all the unknowns.

At some point in the process of heading toward that dreamy future, our reality has to become unburdened by dreams.  We are forced into the present, into the hard work of implementation.   Inevitably, we discover that the future we previously envisioned, “isn’t what it used to be”.  In the process, we discover something else.  The only real future is the present moment.

I am a serial dreamer. It is not easy to acknowledge that all there is, is the now which I inhabit. It's not an easy truth to swallow in a future-gorging world.  Irrespective of our sphere of leadership, we are obsessed with promoting what and how we will make our world better.  We are, as Napoleon said, ‘dealers in hope’.   I happen to think Napoleon was right; however, I also believe there is something about our future we must let go.

In his book “Barking to the Choir”, Fr. Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries makes a profound statement about our preferred futures:

Paradise (or a preferred future) is not a place that awaits our arrival, but a present we arrive at.  A place, in fact, we are already in.  (pg. 75)

Fr. Boyle goes on to reflect that we need to let go of the desire to expect anything beyond the here and now, because the awareness of the ‘now’ keeps us from the suffering generated by resisting what is.  If we as leaders focus only on what is to come, we lose something by failing to stop and notice the now.  We lose moments with people, we miss seeing beauty, pain, or even ideas that exist in that place of now. Perhaps we even miss God passing by. We lose something of ourselves because we failed to enter in to the present and experience what that moment has for us.

This ‘now’ perspective isn’t about abandoning effort to build a better world or widget or whatever you are in to.  It is about exercising an approach to life that acknowledges that this moment, the one in which you are standing, is the only one available to you. 

The future isn’t what it used to be. Pay attention to what is. Now.