I had the opportunity to spend time last week with Linda Grajewski, the founder of a ministry called Gaits to Heaven. She works with the Lakota people on the reservation in North Dakota. By using horses to create bonds between the women and children of the reservation and the volunteers, they experience first hand the love of Jesus, gain skills that will enable them to set a new direction for their lives, and have hope for the future. ( http://gaitstoheaven.org/ ) As we discussed her ministry, her vision, and her needs, she talked about the challenge of fund raising.
Raising funds as a not-for-profit is difficult as the best of times. Linda told me that she never counts a donation on paper until she has the check in hand, because so many times people don’t follow through with their word to give. That’s simply a lack of integrity.
Integrity is about honoring our word. Once we’ve given that word, not honoring it breaks trust and leaves us with a reputation we don’t want. It is always better to carefully consider whether we can honor our word BEFORE we give it. If we feel we’d be unable to follow through on the commitment, then we shouldn’t make the promise. Once we’ve given our word, anything less than following through, lacks integrity.
This insight has caused me to change how often I say yes. I think hard before I commit to attending an event or meeting. I ask myself how I will feel about following through on the commitment before I say yes. The result: I say no more often. I also honor my word more consistently.
“The character of leadership is built one moment, one truth, one action at a time. It isn’t about the big public displays, but the private character that inevitably shines through in those public moments. It’s about thinking of others as more important than ourselves, faithfulness in our relationship with God and those closest to us, integrity, kindness, and honor. What small things do you need to pay attention to in your life?”
This was Monday’s Lead Like Jesus (www.LeadLikeJesus.com) devotional. It hit in the early morning after I had watched a morning news show about Newt Gingrich’s victory in South Carolina. It was interesting to see that only 6% of the voters in South Carolina thought he had strong character, and yet he won 40% of the vote. It’s a trend I’ve seen over the last several years in elections. The person who wins doesn’t always have the best competence and character in the race, but they often have the most chemistry. The three C’s – character, competence, and chemistry – are the foundations for any selection of employees, elected officials, or leaders. First we screen for character and competence, then we see if the chemistry is the right fit for our company, church, or country. We’ve been getting it backwards. Gingrich says he’s had a change of heart and learned from failure. But the question is – who has the better history of making the little decisions that are of such infinite importance. Character counts (www.charactercounts.org)
“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.” -C.S. Lewis
I grew up in Indiana. Every Memorial Day my parents washed the windows on the house and listened to the Indy 500 on the radio. We wanted to know who would win. The “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” was more exciting when cars, wall, and drivers collided. Who was it? Was anyone seriously hurt?
There’s a whole army of people out there just waiting for Tim Tebow to crash and burn. Tebow is that rare person who is publicly living his life with integrity. He lifts up his faith in Jesus, he thanks God for his blessings, he shares his wealth with others, and he helps those in need. For many of us, he is an inspiration. For others, he is “the greatest spectacle in football”. They are waiting, like vultures, for the first mistake he makes so they can say “I told you so. He’s a hypocrite like the rest of us.”
The reality is – Tim Tebow will make poor choices. He’s human, after all – we all make mistakes. It will be in those moments that his character and integrity will be tested, refined, and strengthened. Will he be sincerely regretful and make amends as quickly as possible? That is the mark of an ‘Integrity Fanatic’. We don’t do everything right, we’re not perfect – in fact we screw up a lot. But my prayer for Tim Tebow, myself, and fellow fanatics is that when we do, we’ll repent, sincerely apologize, and make amends.
It’s the crashes of life that build character, integrity, and faith.
Churches aren’t sanctuaries for saints – they are hospitals for sinners.
Are you struggling to work with Generation iY employees? Tim Elmore’s research (Generation iY: Last Chance to Save Their Future), www.GrowingLeaders.com indicates that one of the “lies” we’ve told those born after 1991 is “you are special”. Parents and educators want the kids to know they are loved and deeply cared for. As a result, the last half of Generation Y’s believe they are truly remarkable. They encounter culture shock when an employer delivers a message that they aren’t measuring up. When performance reviews are completed, the statistical bell curve says 10% of employees should receive an outstanding rating. But coming from a world of grade inflation and self-esteem building, Generation iY think they are much better than average. After years of hearing the “you are special” message, they experience culture shock when they are reprimanded or they don’t advance quickly. They quit, or they feel stuck and frustrated, affecting their attitude at work. What can you do as more and more young people enter the workforce? Here are some suggestions from Elmore’s research:
(1) Mentor your young employees. Let them know you believe in them and have their best interest in mind.
(2) Give them short term projects to experience wins and help them acclimate to the realities of working in the real word.
(3) Take the time to affirm what they do well before discussing improvements they need to make. Celebrate when they do perform well.
(4) Be alert to signs of depression or other stress-related illnesses in young employee and steer them toward appropriate employee assistance programs.
If this sounds like more effort than you‘ve spent with your employees in the past, my advice is to get used to it. The next generation of employees will do best when their employers build intentional relationships that mentor, challenge, and role model integrity. Then they can indeed be “special”.
Sixteen months ago, I bought a new HP (Hewlett Packard) 6500 wireless printer. It was the top recommendation in Consumer Reports, it was easy to set up, and seemed to work well initially. I did have some problems with it going offline for no reason, called HP for support in the first 30 days and they helped me set it up differently. That solved the problem then, but over time the going offline problem got worse. I would have to unplug the machine to get it come back on line. Finally this fall, it got so bad, I went out to the web and searched the problem. It became pretty obvious that this model had a major problem and no obvious fix, so I called HP customer support. The polite representative told me to hold my comments until he’d finished( nice way of warning me I wasn’t going to like what I heard)/ He then proceeded to tell me I was 135 days out of warranty, that this was a hardware issue and because I was a “valued customer of HP”, they would sell me a new printer for only $99.00. I told him I’d called for a fix, that it was obvious they’d had a manufacturing flaw with this model, and that I thought they should make it good in a better way than offering me a printer that I could find on line for the same price.
I went to do some research, and found that the new generation of HP printers was having the same problem. So somewhere, HP knows they have a big problem, and rather than stand behind the product, they’ll see if you’ll trust them another time. I felt used.
Turns out I bought my HP printer at Costco. They have customer concierge services http://shop.costco.com/en/Customer-Service/Concierge/2nd-Year-Warranty.aspx , and extend the manufacturer’s warranty. So I boxed up the non-working HP printer, took it back to Costco, and they gave me a full refund – no hassle. They even looked up the transaction at the store, since my bookkeeper had my receipt. I turned around and bought a new printer at Costco – this time a Canon. I didn’t trust HP anymore.
So, who won my loyalty as a customer? Costco – I’ll purchase all my electronics there in the future, I’ll tell my friends and family to do the same – and I ‘m blogging about it. Costco wins with integrity, big time.