Agree with the whining ones – because they’re right

I hate complaining and grumbling. I get the whole #firstworldproblem joke, but sometimes find it hard to laugh at. The petty whining that goes around!! Ugh!

But there’s something to be redeemed in it. Everything people whinge about is probably something that won’t be in paradise when we’re raised with Jesus in glory. So you stubbed your toe? Guess that won’t happen in heaven – there’s no more pain! So you didn’t get first place, or a HD like you wanted? Well there’s no crying in heaven so you’ll feel better then. So you forgot to get something from the shops and now you have to make a second trip – well in glory you’ll be perfect and won’t make silly mistakes.

So that’s my new response to complaining and grumbling… saying, “So it sounds like what you’re saying is that you really can’t wait for Jesus to return and give you your undeserved inheritance so this massive problem will go away? Is that what you’re saying?”

The difference between a poisonous person and a venomous person

You know the difference between poison and venom… if you bite it and you die – it’s poison, if it bites you and you die – it’s venomous. The same can be true of certain people.

Some people can be poisonous; you make the foolish decision to interact with them, to play along with their foolishness. The adulterous woman from Proverbs 5 is poison. It’s a death trap. “For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,  and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death (v3-5)“. This is what some people are like. They draw others into their twisted view of the world. People die by their own decision to drink it all in.

Other people can be venomous. They are always on the attack. Always on the offensive. Always ready for a fight. They speak lies and claim evils have been done. They leave destruction in their wake. And you can get taken down if you happen to be in their line of sight. These are the advisors to Darius in Daniel 6, “Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.”

You can avoid neither, but it helps to know which one you’re dealing with.

Externally solid, internally flexible

Great teams think highly of each other, trust each other, and are reluctant to jump on the bagging-out band-wagon when its aimed at their team mates. For example, even though I wasn’t the most liked guy on my rugby team (’cause I didn’t drink, do crack and sleep around), if I was ever threatened my team mates would come to my defence in a second (usually more overaggressive than required).

But, great teams don’t just put on a united front to the world. They also enter into real and deep conflict on the inside. Once the doors are closed and its just you and me, great teams take each other to task, they challenge, dispute, argue and fight for what they think is best.

And the key is keeping the right attitude in the right context.

If you start arguing with your rugby captain while he’s running with the ball towards the opposition, you’re an idiot. You put your issue aside and you be there for him no matter what. When you’re back in the locker room, and the other teams out of earshot, that’s when you have it out. And after you’ve had it out, you leave it there, in the locker room. You don’t bring it out again.

Then, if I know that you’re not going to attack me in public, well, then I’m all the more likely to trust you when you come to me with an issue in private.

My old IT boss use to say it like this… “X is X. If your partner tells the client X, it doesn’t matter whether you agree with X or not. X is X. You run with it, and change it later. Don’t undermine each other in front of the client. X is X.”

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Turn feelings into numbers

Not every time, but sometimes, its really helpful to ask people to translate their feelings into numbers… just a simple scale of 1-10.

It’s great because it avoids too-positive and too-negative assumptions. When someone says, “Yeah, I’m ok” what do they really mean? Can you trust your gut to read their facial expressions and non-verbal cues? The fact is, I’ve been married for 14 years, and I still have trouble working out how “ok” Julie is when she says she’s “ok”. So how do you expect to know your staff, your members.

So ask them to put it on a scale… “1-10 How are you dealing with this? 1 being a complete mental breakdown, 10 being like you don’t even think about it?”

If their “ok” turns out to be a 3, you’re going to deal with them and help them very differently to if they’re a 7.

And the good thing is, there are loads of categories; how tired are you feeling? What’s your energy levels? etc..