Friday, June 27, 2008

Five Things I'd Like to Do

Here are five things that I would like to do one day. In no particular order...

* Build the HMS Endeavour - I'd still like to have a crack at building a wooden scale replica of the Endeavour. I'm not the most crafty type guy in the world so I think it would be a challenge I would enjoy. It's a masters level project but why let that stop you.

* Write a novel – I would want it to sell well of course. I like to imagine one day sitting at the airport and seeing someone waiting for a flight, reading my book, that they have just purchused from the airport book store. Probably be better if I stoped imagining that though and started imagining what the book was about; and got writing.

* Catch a Mahi-mahi - Mahi-mahi are a type of game fish, I have heard them described as the champaign fish of the sea. I have eaten Mahi-mahi on a couple of occasions and they are beautiful fish. It would be awesome to real a big one in!

* Play golf at St Andrews - Or Augusta National or Pebble Beach. It would be awesome to have a round of golf on one of the finest courses in the world. I'd want to get my handicap down a little before I played, it would be fun though.

* Sail somewhere - I'd love to go on a long distance sailing trip, like from New Zealand to Fiji or one of the other Pacific Islands. It'd be an awesome adventure.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Five Places I'd Like to Visit

Here are the top five places I would like to visit. In no particular order...

* Portsmouth, England - In Portsmouth you can visit and take a tour of the HMS Victory. This is one of the grandest sailing ships of all time. It was Lord Nelson’s flagship and is famous from the battle of Trafalgar. It is a first rate, 100 gun ship, that was completed in 1765.

* Los Angels, USA – Although I have already been to Disney Land, I’d love to go again and take Lisa, Annamari and the rest of the family. I know they would love it. While there it would also be a grand opportunity to travel a bit further, at least around California.

* Great Wall, China – I have always been fascinated by the Great Wall of China. I think China would be a pretty fantastic place to visit as well. I’d also be interested in seeing the Forbidden Temple, Shaolin Temple, the Terra-cotta Warriors, Chengde Mountain Resort, Shangri-la and the Mogao Grottoes.

* Pearl Harbour, Hawaii - I'd love to vist the USS Missouri, it is a United States Battleship on which you can take guided tours. You'd also be able to visit the USS Arizona Memorial and check out all the other cool things Hawaii has to offer, like the Pipeline.

* Machu Picchu, Peru – Home of the ‘Lost City of Machu Picchu’ there would be plenty to see and do here. The Andes would be awesome to visit as well, especially having already been to the Himalayas. And, if you are going that far you may as well whip across to Brazil and journey up the Amazon.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Five Famous People I'd Like to Have Dinner With

Here are the top five famous people I would like to meet or even better have dinner with. In no particular order.

* Jamie Oliver - Jamie has always stood out to me as being a great guy, it seems that he loves life, loves people and loves having fun. It would make sense for him to cook dinner as well I guess. I'll bring a bottle of red.

* Bear Grylls - Bear is a legend! He climbed Everest aged 23 after breaking his back in a parachuting accident. He is an adventurer, author and motivational speaker. I'd love to spend an evening with him.

* Will Smith - Will has always stood out to me for just plain and simply being the man! He is an entertainer and action star but is obviously the absolute professional business man as well. It would be fun to hit the gym with him as well. He's massive!

* William & Harry (Windsor/Wales)- I reckon these guys are cool. Their life is crazy compared to anyone else on the planet. All sorts of pressures, expectations, difficulties that no one else faces. Also of course awesome opportunities and privileges that not many get. I'd love to hang out. I'm sure security wouldn't be an issue.

* Any of the following sporting legends; Tiger Woods, Lewis Hamilton, Andrew Johns, Matthew Johns, Steve Price, any All Blacks, any Black Caps... Hard to narrow it down...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Doing Life Together

Every fortnight on a Tuesday I have the awesome privilege of facilitating truth meets life discussions with some of mine and Lisa's closest friends. We get together to talk and journey through our experiences of relationships, faith, spiritual formation, highs & lows, questions & answers, and everything else that makes up this thing called life. It is awesome being able to do life together!

Community, authentic relationship, friendship and people that will journey with you should never be taken for granted. It is amazing the strength they add to your world. Here are a couple of things that I think make our group a highlight every fortnight.

1. Commitment - there is a real sense of commitment amongst our group. Commitment to the group as a whole, to each other as individuals and to being the real deal with each other. As well as that everyone is committed to winning and helping each other win in life; it is easy to trust that others in the group have your best interests at heart.

2. Humility - no one in our group pretends to have all the answers or know everything thing about everything. There is a genuine openness to hearing other people's stories, opinions and experiences with a genuine desire to discover God's truth for life.

3. Honesty & Trust – our group is willing to share with each other, be honest with each other, be vulnerable with each other and trust each other. It sure takes discussion to a whole new level of authenticity and meaning.

4. Fun & Laughs – we are committed to having a good time, to enjoying each others company and having a good laugh from time to time. We don’t just laugh with each other either, sometimes we love at each other (literally, it’s life, you can’t help it) and allow others to laugh at us, (we do, think, say, and go through some pretty amusing stuff from time to time).

5. History – we’ve been doing this for a while now, there is a sense of history. With a sense of history there comes a sense of partnership as we look forward to the future together and all that it brings.

Doing life together is the only way to really live life to the full! Proverbs warns that a man or a woman that isolates his or her self seeks their own destruction. Don’t isolate yourself. Build community into your life and remember it is possible to be in a group with others but still be isolated; take a risk, open up. It is well worth the effort and the investment to build authentic relationships and genuine friendships.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Great Feeling of Being Uncomfortable

When was the last time you did something really uncomfortable? Not uncomfortable like said hello to a stranger in a lift or like as a guy told another guy you loved them, not in a man-crush way, just like in a genuine great friendship way. (I thought of this because my cousin Israel yelled that he loved me across our crowded work office the other day, I just yelled the same thing back, I didn't feel uncomfortable though).

I mean uncomfortable in the sense of physically uncomfortable. Like walking home from town in the rain, or pulling out some tree stumps with your office hands, or going for a swim at the beach even though it's the middle of winter. (For all my readers in the States, I know it's summer where you are, and for my readers in the UK, I know too).

There is something awesome about doing something that just makes you feel physically uncomfortable and miserable every now and then. Normally its the hot shower that follows, or the ice cold drink, or the massive feed, or the sense of accomplishment. Its a great feeling though. One moment you were feeling miserable, cold, exhausted, tired, drained and wondering why you did it, the next moment everything is all good and you feel great, and you are glad you did it. As we grow older we tend not to put ourselves in these uncomfortable settings. When we where kids the rain was an excuse to go outside, as adults and excuse to stay in doors, as kids relaxing meant running round or building a fort, now it means sleeping in or reading a magazine with a flat white.

Life's to short for that all the time though. Do some stuff that's really uncomfortable every now and then and enjoy that awesome feeling afterwards.

Here is a couple of these experiences I've had recently...

* Ran 42km, really, really uncomfortable, awesome feeling afterwards.
* Laid some cobles at a local kindergarten, it was awesome to do this and I loved it. Doing it in the rain and wind and freezing cold though took it to another level.
* Worked with my brother in shorts and a t-shirt in the pouring rain, like pouring rain, making artificial damns and brooming water for 1.5hours trying to stop our house from flooding.
* Filled a one ton trailer with two ton of dirt, tried to drive through town but was losing absolute control of the trailer and had to get second trailer and re-shovel one ton of dirt into new trailer on the side of the road. I was one with the spade!
* Sky dived, 10,000 feet!!!

Here is a couple you should have a go at...

* Run a marathon
* Jump out of a plane
* Walk a few km in the rain to the hot pools and then have a swim
* Work on your yard or someone else’s for a full day, you'll be amazed at the results
* Go for a massive hike, make it an overnight and camp out
* Climb a mountain
* Grab some friends and enter a community sport relay event of some sort

Don't spend your whole life in doors, at cafes, in front of screens or warm and relaxed. Get out there. Live a colourful life!!!

Your Sermon in Six Words

James MacPherson, Senior Pastor at Calvary Christian Church in Townsville, Australia, has a blog that I read every week. He recently posted some comments about a website where you can publish a story you have written. Only thing is, it can only be six words long. The great writer Earnest Hemmingway was given this challenge once and wrote the following story, powerful and moving in only six words...

'For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.'

This inspired Larry Smith to launch his website. Thousands of people have posted their story.

I had already been thinking about the need for a sermon to be summed up in a single text message. If people miss the service, I'd like to be able to text them the message and them 'get it' in a single text. This could be a challenge for some preachers, especially if their audience doesn't get the message when they are sitting there live!

Reading James's post challenged me to try and get my sermon down to six words. Even harder.

Here's my message from last Sunday night.

'Living the good-life. Lord's my Shepherd.'

Yes I know I've been creative with the hyphen in good-life but hey, pretty good effort I feel. If you heard the message you be the judge.

My message for tomorrow night.

'Good-life questionable. Lord's still my Shepherd.'

Now that doesn't mean you don't have to come tomorrow night.

If you are a preacher or give talks to a crowd of some sort or another, can you get your message down to six words?

Strategy & Security

Insecurity robs an individual in so many areas and in so many ways. Its negative impact on interpersonal relationships and in team settings is massive. One area where insecurity robs is when it comes to strategic planning.

Some people really get excited by the process of strategic planning and thinking. I guess I am one of them. I love creating pathways that can potentially take individuals, families, organisations, teams, and you name it, forwards into a desired and preferred future to what exists today. I love it. I love the process and I love the potential of a well thought out and then well implemented plan.

Ben Lomenick, of Catalyst, recently posted some thoughts on turning ideas into reality on his blog. A process which is undoubtedly a part of strategic planning. His team massages ideas through the following stages…

Create - The more ideas on the board, the more opportunities for one of those to make it through the process. Criticize - Every idea, in order to stay in the process, has to be critiqued and criticized significantly. And make sure everyone doesn’t take things personal; criticizing an idea is much different than criticizing the person who came up with the idea. Optimize - Anything that makes it pass the criticize phase has to be built on. In some ways, this is a second and third wave of innovation. Validate - Every idea has to be validated; financially, operationally, personnel wise, and direction/vision related. Execute - it all comes down to getting things done. If it has gone through the entire process and made it to this point, the idea deserves the attention and focus to make sure it happens.

The above process provides a fantastic guide to the process that ideas and suggestions go through within strategic planning. This process though requires personal security on the part of the strategists. Taking for granted that the team is mature, critiques ideas not team members, endeavors only to bring the best out of each other etc; the strategic process still requires secure and robust people. Opinions are thrown around, often as gospel, fact and obvious best practice, by passionate and strong minded thinkers, (or feelers). These ideas are going off left, right and centre, team mates are jumping from one side of the issue to the other in seconds, others are playing the role of devil’s advocate, often nobody has the complete big picture of the issue at hand, and often you are trying to take an organisation, team, event or whatever, somewhere you have never been before. It’s exciting!

Insecurity in this setting though will seriously set the process back; it will rob the best from the strategic planning process. I’ll let you figure out why the following is detrimental to the strategic process, it’s reasonably obvious. Normally insecure strategists…

1. Won’t give ground when they argue about an idea or option, often which they see as being their personal case, rather than simply an idea or option.
2. Won’t take critical analysis of their ideas / suggestions personally and so team mates hold back from speaking the truth through fear of offending, or they just charge ahead, upset, and then have to sort out the pieces.
3. Close their ears to the ideas and perspectives of others, at times particular team mates and at times in regards to particular issues.
4. Cannot bring themselves to get excited about ideas that are not their own and too easily dismiss the suggestions of others.
5. Hold back on suggesting what they really think for fear of upsetting or being rebutted.
6. Struggle to put issues, ideas and concepts on the table to discuss while leaving personalities, history, and opinion of individuals on the couch.
7. And I’m sure you can think of numerous others.

Until insecurity is dealt with a planning team will only ever be able to fire at 60%. When insecurity is left behind though, teams can attack issues, not people, all guns blazing and come up with some incredible creative solutions and pathways forward.

Monday, June 9, 2008

RSS Feeds

Tired of checking into my blog or other people's blogs only to discover no new posts or content?

This is a quick not for you readers that don't know about RSS, (I know you exist). It'll save you from loading up a blog only to discover you have read all the posts and it'll save me from feeling like I have to post every other day.

Thanks for the following info...

What is RSS?

RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Many news-related sites, blogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS Feed to whoever wants it.

Benefits and Reasons for using RSS?

RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. You ensure your privacy, by not needing to join each site's email newsletter. The number of sites offering RSS feeds is growing rapidly and includes big names like Yahoo News.

Basically, (if you are using Explorer), all you have to do is click on the RSS icon, (see picture below), on the right hand side of the browser window between the home icon and the print icon.

Then all you have to do is click 'subscribe to this feed' in the yellow box.

You will now discover that my blog is added to your list of feeds (between you list of favourites and history list). Rather than loading my blog or other blogs to check for new content you just click on your feeds list. Any websites / blogs etc with new content will be in bold.

Simple as that...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Reading for a Change

James Macpherson recently posted some great thoughts on reading for a change. You can read the full post here. His main point was that as the bible warns, knowledge without application 'puffs' a person up, we must read to change. James suggested some thoughts to help you apply what you read...

1. Read with a pen.
Write all over the book, notes and thoughts etc, just make sure you own the book!
2. Talk with someone about what you are reading.
Discussion will help you process the information.
3. Make a list of immediate applications you can make to your life.
How could you live, act, respond, behave differently because of what you are reading? Practice a couple of those things straight away.
4. Read slowly.
5. Reread books.

I thought I would add a few things to the list that help me to get the most out of my reading. I try to read 52 books a year and want to make the most of the time I spend in a dust jacket.

6. Research the author.
Where possible find out a bit about the author before you read the book. Knowing a little bit more about the author can help you process and asses their thoughts on a particular subject more accurately. It might help you determine what weight to put on what they write. Tiger Woods' keys to church growth wouldn't carry as much weight with me compared to his keys for playing better golf. Reading takes time which is limited, especially with kids, so you want to read authors who know what they are talking about.

7. Learn to reflect.
This will lead into my next point. Reading for a change isn't just about taking in information. It is about taking in information and then reflecting on it and outworking it where appropriate. You have to take the time to work out what the information you have just read means to you and could mean to your world, job, organisation etc. What is applicable, a challenge, irrelevant, convicting etc etc.

8. Tick, cross, highlight and question mark.
I find the books I read are either about something I know only a little about but am wanting to learn, eg, The Only Wise God by William Lane Craig (a book about divine foreknowledge and things like that) or Boards that Make a Difference by John Carver (a book on policy driven boards and organisational governance). Or the book is about something I have a reasonable understanding of but want to increase my knowledge or skills in that area, eg, Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni (a book on staff and team meetings) or Strategies for Change by Lyle Scheller (a book about implementing organisational change). When it comes to a book about something I am reasonably familiar with I try to summarise either on paper or in my head my thoughts on that subject. Then as I read I tick what I agree with, cross what (after reflection) I just don't agree with, highlight new things I have learnt and can immediately see the merits of and finally question mark the issues the book raises that I need to look into more.

9. Read deep.
Most subjects can be broken down into smaller and smaller pieces. Take leadership for example, there are all sorts of subjects and skills that can fit under the category of leadership. Organisational leadership, team leadership, self leadership, leading through change, leading through transition, vision casting, running meetings, challenging the process, dealing with complexity, strategic planning, inter generational leadership etc etc. Don't just read general books about leadership, know in your mind what makes up that thing called 'leadership' and read deeper in those areas. General leadership books will only scratch the surface and after a few years in the leadership game may not actually add much to you as a leader. Books that go deeper into a particular subject or field though will help you immensely.

10. Read wide.
While you may focus your reading on particular subjects (do diverge from time to time though) read widely on your particular subject. Sticking with leadership, don't just read books on leadership by pastors. Read what sports people write, business people, academics, industry leaders, etc etc. You'll learn a lot by reading wide.

Alex the Kidd

At church the other day, our notices were themed to the classic Sega game Alex the Kidd. It inspired me to hunt around in the garage for my Sega Master System 2 and have another go at the game that brought so much joy as a child.

I had a blast playing the game again and clocked it on my second turn. What surprised me is that it only took me 54 minutes to clock it. The third and final time I played it I clocked it in 42 minutes and think I could even get it down to about 38 minutes if I tried again. I am sure that it took hours and hours as a kid just to get up to the blue castle?

I have just brought Wonder Boy and will now clock that just for the fun of it.

Here are a few of the games that I loved as a kid (20 years ago as a kid when I was 7, and also now as a kid at 27)...

Sega Master System 2
Alex the Kid, Wonder Boy, Double Dragon, Golden Axe, and California Games. There is a full list of all SMS2 games here.

Sega Mega Drive
NBA Jam, Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat and X-Men. Full list here.

Star Wars.

Resident Evil, Micro Machines V3, Tomb Raider, Bomberman, Cool Boarders, Tony Hawk, Die Hard Trilogy, ISS Pro Evolution Soccer, Shane Warne Cricket, Jonah Lomu Rugby, Tekken 2, NHL 97, WWF Smack Down. Full list of games here.

Nintendo 64
Golden Eye, Pod Racer

Playstation 2
Stacey Jones League, Guitar Hero, Cricket 2007

Playstation 3
Never really played it.

Tiger Woods Golf

X-Box 360
Never really played it

What are your favourite games?