Jonathan's Perspective  

Aug 2

'Choosing Success in Chaos'

What determines your success in life?  Does upbringing, unexpected circumstances, money, or something else determine your success?  Jim Collins and Morten Hansen in their book Great by Choice suggest that the key indicator of your success are three character traits that you can choose: fanatic discipline, empirical creativity and productive paranoia.  They ask the pointed question: "Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?"  We can ask that of individuals as well.  Collins and Hansen talk about those who are overcomers as the "10Xers" because they produce ten-fold what others in their industry do.  Look how they describe these leaders: 'Clear-eyed and stoic, 10Xers accept, without complaint, that they face forces beyond their control, that they cannot accurately predict events, and that nothing is certain; yet they utterly reject the idea that luck, chaos, or any other external factor will determine whether they succeed or fail.'  The Apostle Paul exhibited these characteristics and, with the Holy Spirit, changed the Western World. 

Paul displayed Fanatical Discipline.  'For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.'  (I Cor 9:16) Paul had a clear goal - to preach to Gospel to all nations and he fanatically pursued it.  He embarked on several missionary journeys which systematically reach farther and farther out-eventually as far as Iberia (Spain). Paul couldn't reach the known world in one swoop but he was disciplined.  Collins and Hansen call this a 20 Mile March.  Every person and company has to determine what its 20 Mile March is:  What are the activities that have to be done every day or week NO MATTER WHAT?  This requires that we don't give into the discomfort of obstacles and underperform.  Conversely, we can't give into the temptation to over-perform in easy times and create an unsustainable path.    What is your 20 Mile March at work and home? 

Paul also displayed Empirical Creativity.  Collins says that creativity is natural, discipline is hard - that is why he lists discipline first.  Paul's second missionary journey began with the churches he had already established before he launched further afield.  Paul consistently preserved the core of his ministry before moving on.  He trained leaders, established structures, wrote letters to churches and to pastors.  Preserve the core then stimulate progress.  Wild success doesn't come from betting the house on one possibility.  Be careful to not get yourself in a position at work or ln life that your success is dependent on the outcome of one wild innovation.

Finally, Paul had Productive Paranoia.  Collins and Hansen said 10Xers had a productive paranoia.  They expected change and upheaval.  They looked for it so they would not be caught flat-footed.  10Xers are highly sensitive to shifts in the wind and set their business sails to capture it rather than be tipped over.  Did you know Paul wrote the Letter to the Romans before he had ever been there?  He didn't know if he would make it out of Jerusalem alive and so hedged his bets with that magnificent letter of rich theology and profound insight.  Look around you.  Discover what the biggest outside risk is and look in - at your business and yourself - to see how you can perform better to meet that challenge. 

What is your mission at work?  In your family?  In your community?  No matter what it is that God has called you to do and be, you can do it with His help.  Ask God to help you become fanatically disciplined, empirically creative, and productively paranoid.  Paul did and we still talk about his impact.  How do you want the next generations to talk about you?  I challenge you to gather some friends to read and talk about this article, then encourage each other to grow into these core behaviors. 

Blessed to be a blessing,

Jonathan

 

 Dr. Jonathan Beck

1201 Metairie Rd.,

Metairie, LA 70005

(318)219-6512

 

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