Friday, December 31, 2010

top 10 books of 2010

Here is a simple list of my top 10 books i read in 2010. i won't say anything about them because i already gave short little reviews of all of them HERE and HERE.

we'll start with the 10th best and move down to my #1 book of the year. (This time i'll include subtitles and pics.)

#10 - The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations
Dan Kimball

#9 - Developing the Leaders Around You: How to Help Others Reach Their Full Potential
John Maxwell

#8 - The Poor Will Be Glad: Joining the Revolution to Lift the World Out of Poverty
Peter Greer and Phil Smith

#7 - Outliers: The Story of Success
Malcolm Gladwell

#6 - The Gospel in a Pluralist Society
Lesslie Newbigin

#5 - The Last Lecture
Randy Pausch

#4 - A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions that are Transforming the Faith
Brian Mclaren

#3 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
J.K. Rowling

#2 - Kite Runner
Khaled Housseni

#1 - Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Dan and Chip Heath


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

50 books (the 2nd 25)

i recently posted the 1st 25 of the 50 books i read this year. You can read that HERE. Today's post is a quick review of each of the last 25 books i read this year.
i also give them a 1-5 star rating after the author's name (5 stars being the best, of course).

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling     *****
My 2nd step into the world of Harry Potter. I think the 1st book was better, but this has still got to be the best fiction ever written. Absolutely amazing. I lose myself in another world every time I dive in and I can’t rip myself away from this book.

(Re)Understanding Prayer – Kyle Lake     ****
Kyle died in a 2005 baptism accident and I’ve heard from so many people that he was an such a unique guy! I learned a lot about prayer from this book. Kyle was one authentic and transparent pastor.

Developing the Leaders Around You – John Maxwell     ****
This had the practicality of and usefulness of a business school text book but was also easy to read. Excellent must read for anyone leading a team! So good i'm going back through it to start putting into practice all that i learned.

Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ – John Piper     ***
Good book to read to renew our awe in Jesus. really short and easy read.

How Soccer Explains the World­ – Franklin Foer     ****
This was a really interesting book and fun for me to read. It's basically a study in Globalism via the soccer cultures all over the world. Brilliant! The last chapter was the best as it was a breakdown of why conservative Americans have an agenda of hatred for soccer... eye opening and brilliant! Anyone who is interested in soccer and world culture will love this book.

A New Kind of Christianity – Brian McLaren     ****
I always love reading McLaren. He is one of my favorite authors. This is perhaps the most challenging of all his books. Challenges all my assumptions and many things we're taught in theology classes in seminary. i also love his heart and his reason for challenging the status quo in search of truth. i recommend this book, but would recommend starting with some other McLaren books 1st.

Good to Great and the Social Sectors – Jim Collins     ****
What an awesome idea. Since all of us churches and non-profits already strive to follow Collins' Good to Great principles anyway, why not give us our own book? That's exactly what this book is. It takes the genius principles and tweaks them for the social sectors. every social leader should read this.

Made to Stick – Chip and Dan Heath     *****
Probably the best book i read this year! it is amazing! i couldn't get enough of it and it is extremely relevant for everything i do and will do in the future. it's basically great principles for how we can consistently make our ideas stick in people's minds and help them actually act on them!

God is the Gospel – John Piper     ***
I'm a big Piper fan, but this definitely was not the best of his books. Maybe the worst? It felt like he wrote it in a weekend from some random notes he had around the house. it was just "ok" for me.
                                                           
Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches – contributors include Mark Driscoll, John Burke, Doug Pagitt, and Dan Kimball    ***
Finally got around to reading this while we were in Kenya. I really liked this conversational style book with the authors talking back and forth as they wrote. This book will make you think for sure. Unfortunately, Driscoll is the dark spot in the book... sounds like they invited a mean old fundamentalist pastor to contribute.

The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown     **
Decent story. Decently written. i wanted to see what all the hype with Dan Brown has been about. i must have missed it.

Angels and Demons – Dan Brown     *
If the above book was just decent, then this book was no good at all. waste of time and not really even that entertaining.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey     ***
i can see why it's a classic. Very practical and helpful. i need to be putting these habits into practice!

The Next Christendom - Phillip Jenkins     ***
The concept is awesome & something we all need to be aware of. It is written more as an academic book though and fairly boring. Basically, the bottom line is that the Global Church and Center of Christianity is moving SOUTH. This will change things dramatically as the Southern Church will be driving things and not the American/Western church. I would love a 25 page summary of this book instead of having to read the whole thing.

He is There & He is not Silent - Francis Schaeffer     **
I have never actually read a Francis Schaeffer book, so this one seemed like a good one to start with as he was "the man" for a couple decades. He had good stuff to say, but it was obvious that he was a champion writing for modern people still in the modern era. Unfortunately, most of his major points are now irrelevant in this new postmodern era (imho).

Emerging Churches - Eddie Gibbs & Ryan Bolger     ***
Started reading this back in 06 and i finally finished. the 1st half of the book is GREAT! the 2nd half dragged on. Great job by these authors to pull together the main distinctions of emerging churches. a very helpful book overall.

LOVE – Mother Teresa     ***
The best of Mother Teresa all in 1 book. Very inspiring. what an awesome lady.

The Power of Positive Thinking - Norman Vincent Peale     **
Straight from my late grandfather's shelf. Didn't know what to expect from this guy that my grandfather read religiously. Some of it was good stuff and some of it felt more like heresy.

The Hole in Our Gospel - Richard Stearns     ***
Good, simple book from the President of World Vision. Nothing new, but all good reminders. Pretty recent facts, stats, and stories.

BELIEVE – Desmond Tutu     ***
Great stuff from Tutu. This guy is always inspiring.

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch     *****
One of the best books i read this year. Audio book on the way up to NY for Christmas. This Carnegie-Melon professor had terminal cancer and a few months to live. So he wrote this book of everything he would want to say to and pass down to his young children. FULL of practical wisdom. It felt like i was reading a modern day Proverbs (although pretty sure this guys isn't a follower of Jesus).

The Emerging Church - Dan Kimball     ****
My parents gave me this book as a birthday gift when i was back in college. i started it then and finished it just this week. Great stuff from 5 years ago from Kimball. Level headed guy who gets it. A VERY simple intro to postmodernism and how the church can react to it.

The Cost of Discipleship - Dietrich Bonhoeffer     ***
Classic. Many would say a top 10 Christian book of all time. I wouldn't rank it that high, but it was definitely a great book about living "radically" from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. After that part of the book it kind of drug on and didn't feel very relevant.

Das Kapital - Karl Marx     ***
So close to the Way of following Jesus and the life of Jesus. Yet, SO FAR away in the end. Without Jesus this gets pretty jacked up. I see what Marx was getting at and it could be a beautiful thing... instead he just made it ugly with the killing people thing and all.

Grasping God’s Word - Duvall & Hays     ***
I read most of this for a hermeneutics seminary class but finished it this week and it's a lot of great practical stuff for understanding reading the Bible.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

quotes of the week #30

day after Christmas & last day of the weekend... quotes of the week #30

#1 quote of the week:
“One always picks up a bit of whatever it is that one opposes simply by virtue of wrestling with it.” – old axiom of folk wisdom (via Phyllis Tickle in The Great Emergence)

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt; just how we play the hand." - Randy Pausch in The Last Lecture

“Innovation is born out of limitation.” – Craig Groeschel, pastor & author

“The day that we as a staff stop being bothered by the lostness of people is the day we need to go find something else to do for a living.” – Chris Brown, my pastor

“The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” – Mike Foster, leader and author

“Never put problem-solving before decision-making. Decide WHAT God wants you to do & WHY, then later God will show you HOW.” – Rick Warren, pastor and author

“If you are not actively asking others how you can grow and develop as a leader and person, you're probably not growing.” – Carey Nieuwhof, pastor in Canada, eh?

“What does the color of one’s skin tell us that is of any significance about a person? Nothing, of course, absolutely nothing. It does not say whether the person is warmhearted or kind, clever and witty, or whether that person is good.” – Desmond Tutu, archbishop of Rwanda

“We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace. We need love and compassion.” – Mother Teresa

"Your success as a leader is determined by your successor. So spend time growing people who will succeed you." – Howard Hendricks, prof & author


Saturday, December 25, 2010

an unexpected christmas

A little final video of Ridge Church banding together to change the lives of a family... not just 1 day, but for a long time.
it was an unexpected Christmas for this family.

An Unexpected Christmas from Ridge Church on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

50 books (the 1st 25)

Yesterday i mentioned that i met my goal and read 50 books this year. That is the most i've ever read in 1 year! That was my goal at the beginning of the year and i met it.

Over the next 2 blog posts i'm just going to list the books i read this year and write a few thoughts about each of them. Maybe a recommendation of the book (or not). Maybe you'll want to pick up a couple and read them?
i also give them a 1-5 star rating after the author's name (5 stars being the best, of course).
(I'm just posting the books here in the order that i read them during the year. the most recent 25 i read coming up in the next post.)

Believing in the Future – David J. Bosch    ***
The 1st book I read this year and it was a brilliant way to kick off a new decade. Bosch wrote this last decade before his early death and really predicted the post modern shifts that are continuing to happen and he told us what the church should be ready to do about it.

Crazy Love (re-read) – Francis Chan    ****
I read this last year and took a bunch of notes on it, but had to re-read it after I lost my notes. This is classic PASSIONATE Francis Chan. Very raw and authentic. This will always be a good read no matter how many times I’ve read it. It renews my sense of awe in a BIG God and kicks me into gear to live a radical life following Him.

Blink – Malcolm Gladwell     ****
I don’t think Malcolm is able to write a book that isn’t amazingly brilliant. He never ceases to amaze me. This book is all about the split second decisions we have to make with no info. It explores our prejudices we don’t believe we have and the world of predictions, snap judgments, and how our brain works.

The Gospel in a Pluralist Society – Lesslie Newbigin     ****
A classic from the father of missional theology for western society. This guy basically laid the foundational theology for what is today the emerging & emergent church… or really any church seeking to be missional in western culture. This was a really great book with so so many great chapters and concepts. Plus he is from Newcastle upon Tyne… home of the Magpies :)

The Humanity of God - Karl Barth     *
You can start to see my commitment to read more dead guys. Barth is one of the most famous German theologians since Martin Luther, not to mention the main name you think of when you hear “modern theology.” Honestly this book was just OK though.

Kite Runner – Khaled Housseni     *****
The best fiction I’ve read besides Harry Potter in a really long time. Maybe it’s even just as good as Harry… just different. An amazing story of childhood friendship, betrayal, redemption. It’s a very emotional story and a book that you literally cannot put down. I stayed up all night one night to read it.

The Imitation of Christ – Thomas a’ Kempis     *
Another dead guy. This one must not have been so great because I really can’t remember much about it. I’ll have to look back at my notes.

Good to Great (re-read) – Jim Collins     *****
Another one I lost my notes on so I had to re-read it and take notes again. It is a simply awesome book! It was in my top 5 in 2009. EVERY leader needs to read this book. I would recommend reading it twice like I did.

The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Doestoevsky     **
I was trying this classic work of fiction and it was LONG. Like 1,200 pages. REALLY really long. And it was a complicated story to follow at times with so many characters with unfamiliar names, etc… They would go into these long dialogues off subject and totally lose me. I guess it was a good story but could have been told in less than half the pages.                                   

The Gospel According to Lost - Chris Seay     ***
Now this was a FUN book. If you’re a LOST fan and a follower of Jesus then this is a must read. Seriously. It is amazing to see into the brains of the writers of the show and how they worked in endless theology, biblical imagery, and philosophy. The classic battle between good and evil + determinism and free will rage on in this show and this book makes sure you don’t miss any of the hidden meanings.

Religion Saves: And 9 Other Misconceptions – Mark Driscoll     ***
I love Mark Driscoll. He is awesome and entertaining. Although on other days I dislike Mark Driscoll very much. If you can appreciate that kind of tension then you’ll love this book. It’s basically his 10 week sermon series based on the top 10 questions peeps in his church asked. He’ll make you laugh and tick you off back to back. 1 guarantee is that you will NOT get bored reading this book.

Don’t Waste Your Life (re-read) – John Piper     ****
Most of you know I love John Piper. I read this one a few years ago and the same great stuff was still there this time. I won’t lose my notes on it this time. You gotta read this to make sure you’re not going to waste your life! It’s too important to waste it. And if you’re just going along with the flow of culture then I can pretty much guarantee you’re wasting it.
           
The Dip – Seth Godin     ***
“Quitters never win and winners never quit.” – Vince Lombardi. * “Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.” Great little book. I think I read it in an hour. Basically the advice is either GO FOR IT and see it all the way through after having counted the cost or just quit now and don’t waste all that initial effort.

A Long Way Gone – Ishmael Beah     ***
The subtitle accurately describes this book = “Memoirs of a Boy Soldier”. It is a heart breaking book. Don’t read this book lightly. I would read it at night as I fell asleep and I would wake up in the morning depressed from what I read. There was a heavy, horrible feeling suppressing me. This book is full of sadness and no hope is really offered (Other than the kid is rescued… against his will that point). I would still read it again because of the eye-opening bluntness of the power of rebel wars in Africa and the atrocity that is the recruiting of child soldiers. It is real and it should not exist in our world. What are we gonna do about it?

The E-Myth Revisited – Michael Gerber     **
This book is all about entrepreneurs. About entrepreneurs and for entrepreneurs. A lot about how to start successful companies and orgainizations. It’s very helpful and very practical. It is honestly kind of boringly written, but still a huge best seller if that tells you how helpful it is.

Developing the Leader Within You (re-read) – John Maxwell     *****
I think this is Maxwell’s best book ever. It is an extremely helpful book for me continuously trying to improve as a leader. There are so many great ideas, principles, and practical tips to help us all develop as better leaders.

Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis     **
Another classic. Maybe one of the most famous Christian books of the last century or 2? The 1st part was pretty good. It was a classic apologetic argument for God and Christianity (which is questionable as to whether that is effective at all for a postmodern generation). But the rest of the book, for me, was struggling. I found myself counting down how long til the book was finished. Just sayin…

Killing Cockroaches – Tony Morgan     ***
This was probably the 2nd best “pot book” I’ve ever read. It’s the perfect layout – short little 1-2 page articles on leadership and ministry. And there were a LOT of great, practical articles. Good leadership stuff from Tony.

Satisfaction: The Art of Female Orgasm – Kim Cattrall and Mark Levinson     ***
Really valuable practical advice! Really important stuff. Shoots straight with you. I would guess that everybody needs to read this.           

The Money Answer Book – Dave Ramsey     ***
Another great “pot book” I read this year. All of Dave Ramsey’s wisdom condensed down into a tiny little book. If you don’t follow Dave’s financial advice, but are scared of reading a big long book then just start with this one! You should retire as a multi-millionaire and shouldn’t have any money stress if you follow Dave’s advice.

The Forgotten God – Francis Chan     ***
I listened to this audiobook and was definitely convicted several times. We’ve basically forgotten the Holy Spirit.

The Pursuit of God – A.W. Tozer     ***
This was my grandmother’s book, so it was special to read this copy of the book that she once read even all these years after she has been gone. Tozer is a good author and says a lot of good stuff in this book. Louie recommended it to me too.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Kama Sutra – Ron Louis     ***
This was way better and easier to read than the real/original Kama Sutra! I guess that’s why they call it the idiot’s guide. Really simple and practical.

The Poor Will Be Glad – Peter Greer and Phil Smith     ****
Introducing (to many of us) the world of micro-finance and micro-enterprise that will change the world for Good. Just $100 will radically change a family’s life and lift them out of poverty forever by empowering them to start a small business! This is something I want to be a part of for the rest of my life.

Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell     ****
This book is so fascinating – as are all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books. This one is all about Success and what makes people successful/how they become successful. And it’s NOT what you think! A lot of it has nothing to do with what they can do. It’s factors that they have no control over that make them successful. BUT, some of us will be in positions to manipulate these factors for the common good and to make it possible for more and more people to be successful.


**There you have it. 
have you read any of these books? how many stars would you give them? Are there any of these you've been thinking about reading?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

50 books

My goal at the beginning of 2010 was to read 50 books and i nailed it.
There were a few times i didn't think i would make it, but for the 1st time i read 50 books in 1 year.

Next year will be very different. i'll only set out to read about 12 books and i'll explain my strategy later.

Tomorrow i'll try to write a little blurb about the 50 books i've read...


Saturday, December 18, 2010

quotes of the week #29

my top 10 quotes to share with the world this week.
The 1st one is my #1 quote of the week & very appropriate considering my last birthday. feeling a little "dead" these days. As far as I can see from most men in the world, Twain is right on.

"Most men die at 27, we just bury them at 72." - Mark Twain

"God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives." – Bono

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms: a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.” – GK Chesterton

“God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.” – Billy Graham

“Don't confuse the difference between PATIENCE and PROCRASTINATION. Often the difference simply is... FEAR.” – Corey Errett, my friend and a pastor in NY

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle

“If you're thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you're embarking on something which will take the whole of you.” – C.S. Lewis

“There’s a difference in reducing the budget & reducing the vision.”Chris Brown, my pastor. [this statement is right on.]

"Only he who believes is obedient. Only he who is obedient, believes." – Dietrich Bonhoeffer [we hate to hear this, but i think it's true.]

“Some leaders have more wishbone than backbone.”Mike Foster


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the american dream

(this is a repost from July 2, 2008. Seemed like an appropriate "repost" for this time of year.)

I guess I'll just come right out and say it because I'm in that kind of mood today. I hate the American Dream! & I'm pretty sure Jesus hates it too. I think the American Dream is probably one of the biggest contributors to wasted lives!!! And most peeps are wasting their lives these days. Living for their own name and glory.

You may not be aware of this, but I think the American Dream has slowly changed from what it used to be. The great philosophers Nickelback poetically describe the current American Dream in their song "Rockstar". Read the lyrics below, but I'm sure most of you know it so go ahead and sing along in that raspy voice that leaves your throat scratchy and asking for some water. It really is a catchy song...

"I'm through with standing in line to clubs we'll never get in
It's like the bottom of the ninth and I'm never gonna win
This life hasn't turned out quite the way I want it to be

(Tell me what you want)
I want a brand new house on an episode of Cribs
And a bathroom I can play baseball in
And a king size tub big enough for ten plus me

(So what you need?)
I'll need a credit card that's got no limit
And a big black jet with a bedroom in it
Gonna join the mile high club at thirty-seven thousand feet

(Been there, done that)
I want a new tour bus full of old guitars
My own star on Hollywood Boulevard
Somewhere between Cher and James Dean is fine for me

(So how you gonna do it?)
I'm gonna trade this life for fortune and fame
I'd even cut my hair and change my name

[Chorus:]
'Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
And live in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars
The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap
We'll all stay skinny 'cause we just won't eat
And we'll hang out in the coolest bars In the VIP with the movie stars
Every good gold digger's gonna wind up there
Every Playboy bunny with her bleach blond hair
Hey hey I wanna be a rockstar"

-
Ok, for real... did you sing it? It's one of those that may very well be stuck in your head for a few days.

This is a little different than the original American Dream that went something like this: a nice, big house, 2 nice, new cars, 2 nice kids, a big TV, a comfy job where you have climbed the corporate ladder to (imagined) "security", a pretty wife who doesn't talk back or a husband who doesn't drink beer or hang out with "the boys" too much, a nice vacation or two every year. and of course, a really fat retirement account so we can retire @ 65 (or earlier) and "live the life" on a beach somewhere or in the mountains playing golf til we kick the bucket.
If you wanted a "Christian" version of this just throw in a nice church with lots of people like you who have a nice, big house & 2 new cars + a lot of time to spend with the family... maybe something like the wife not having a job and the husband making sure he spends lots of evenings with the kids.

Obviously I'm not saying any of that stuff is bad. And I'm not saying the new American Dream is any better or worse than the old or the "Christian" American Dream, but I am convinced that both "American Dreams" are wasting peoples' lives. I feel like the American Dream and the false hope & trust in imagined security and comfort that go along with it are trying their best to hijack the Missio Dei, the Mission of God. Thankfully, God's Mission cannot be hijacked, but the American Dream is taking a pretty good swing at it.

I really don't know what to do about it either. Maybe you can help me think of something. You can be sure that with God helping me I'm not gonna get sucked into it & let it waste my life. I'm only gonna waste my life for Jesus. If you ever see me veering into this wasted life/American Dream then I give you permission to call me on it. I'm gonna do all I can to protect my kids from this way of life that will waste their lives. And I guess I will promote the satisfaction that comes from politely (and not so politely) rebelling against this culture of consumerism we live in & living our lives for one Name. I guess that's a start.

Monday, December 13, 2010

funniest video ever?

i needed a laugh this morning, so i thought i would share it with you.

this is like 1 of those movies where you can't even finish laughing at 1 joke because you haven't even had sufficient time to process the full funniness of it - and then here comes the next laugher. You laugh so hard that it hurts.

There are so many things wrong with this 5 minute clip that i won't even attempt to address any of them. it's just pure entertainment. all laughs!

Friday, December 10, 2010

quotes of the week #28


On this 28th version of "Quotes of the Week", i think our #1 quote of the week points to the importance of these posts...

"The people you listen to are the preview of the future you." - Jeff Henderson, Campus Director @ Buckhead Church (And a crazier reader than me)
***We ALL need to be listening to awesome people! i try to listen to TONS of them. that's why i jot down awesome things they say here and there... as i go through my week... then i share the best ones with all of you guys. i would like to take the best from a lot of people and maybe that will eventually be the future me? i think Jeff's quote could be like the "motto" for "Quotes of the Week" here on renown.

"Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you." - Jim Collins, author

"What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say."Ralph Waldo Emerson, late author

“You have permission to mess up. If you’re not messing up you’re probably not risking enough.”Chris Brown, pastor [it's very liberating having a leader telling you these kind of things! he followed up with = “I want us to make mistakes, I just don’t want us to make the same ones every time.”]

"Some people are so invested in their fear and hatred that peace is the most threatening thing they can imagine." - Dalia Hassan, from the final season of 24

“Why are we going to save for potential future need when we are surrounded by present need?”David Platt, pastor & author 
[this is an absolutely GREAT question! and in a moment of transparency with you... i can't come up with a good answer. other than "Dave and the generation before me tell me i should." i wonder if that answer will fly?]

“Kids don't understand that other kids starve. They learn it's true as teens & learn not to care as adults. The world numbs us to hurt.”John Acuff, a usually humorous author... but a serious one on this day

"The best thing a leader can bring to their team is their energy." - Bill Hybels, pastor and author [that's why i can't have meetings on Monday mornings & why i have to go to bed early like a little kid on Saturday nights.]

"I would try desperately to think about my childhood, but I couldn't. The war memories had formed a barrier." - Ishmael Beah, former child soldier and author of A Long Way Gone 
[many haunting memories from reading this book. i literally woke up in the mornings feeling scared and afraid and depressed. i can't imagine how these "former children" must feel.]

"When you hear that a house is in foreclosure, don’t think “deadbeat”; say a prayer instead." Matt Rich, a smart guy and a friend
[why are we so quick to judge people and not just love? when was the last time we prayed for someone in a tight financial spot instead of think about what they could/should have done. we're so arrogant we don't even care to know their circumstances!]

"the narrower the vision the fewer decisions you have to make." - Andy Stanley, author, pastor, and strategic genius

"I learned I needed to trust God more than my theology about God." - Brian McLaren, former pastor and author
[many of us need to let that sink in for a few days]


Monday, December 6, 2010

THIS is amping my productivity

i stumbled on a great article from the 99% blog the other day. i love their tag line = "It's not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen."

the article was a 1 step idea to be extremely more productive. i took the challenge and it's working! i'm loving it. it's a principle that i believed and followed in theory, but now i have a much better handle on it because of the tips you can read below + i'm making it work for me. if you are someone who likes to accomplish things - any goals, if you have any vision or dreams, etc... then you MUST read this!
(i have edited down the article to make it shorter. *Don't miss the really helpful list of hints at the bottom!) you can read the full great article by Jocelyn K. Glei HERE.
[my thoughts are in these brackets!]

 The 1-Step Plan for Super-Productivity

"[speaking of highly productive people...] So what is the secret ingredient in their productivity regime? It’s simple: They get up early. To take a (very) random sample of creative luminaries from the wonderful Daily Routines blog, Charles Darwin, Toni Morrison, Le Corbusier, Stefan Sagmeister, Benjamin Franklin, Emily Post, Gerhard Richter, and William Wegman all make (or made) a habit of getting up early.

A recent study conducted by Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education at Heidelberg, backs up the theory that early risers tend to have a more proactive – and thus productive – mindset:
 [Randler] surveyed 367 university students, asking them when they were most energetic and willing to change a situation. It was the morning people who were more likely to agree with statements such as “I feel in charge of making things happen” and “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself.”

The data makes sense: If you’re getting up early, you probably already have a good idea of what you want to accomplish that day – otherwise it would be hard to motivate to get up in the first place. Being an early riser also indicates a natural affinity for ritual and discipline – both key traits of especially productive people.

[When getting up early] You accomplish tons of meaningful work before most people even get started – allowing you to coast through the rest of your day with a sense of achievement and significantly less anxiety. [this is perhaps what i enjoy most about it!]

What if you’re not naturally an early riser? Or just hate the idea of it?
[this is definitely ME! i am this person!]
I’ve talked to loads of folks who insist that their most productive time is late at night – their creative energy naturally peaks when everyone else is asleep. And, to a certain degree, our ingrained biorhythms are a factor. Some of us are predisposed to late-night creation, while others naturally wake with the sun. Age is also a factor. (How many elderly people do you know that sleep in?)

Like it or not, most of the world works on a 9-to-5 schedule, which naturally provides the early riser with a certain advantage. In a great piece Cal Newport wrote on the habits of successful professional writers, he notes that they all get up early, adding: “Several [writers] did mention that they might also be efficient working very late at night (and sleeping through the day), but that this seems incompatible with being a productive member of society.”

Certainly you can be a productive night owl, but when it comes to the business details we all have to attend to – the emails, the scheduling, the negotiations – there are definitely benefits to being on a daytime schedule.

In a recent conversation with energy management guru Tony Schwartz, he argued that less than 10% of the general population possess the unchangeable biorhythms of the die-hard night owl. In short, most of us can re-train ourselves to become early risers if we’re motivated.

So how can you become an early riser?
Getting up early is like most any habit that makes you a more productive creative: It’s hard at first. Here are a few tips to get you started:  [GREAT tips that work for me, i might add!]

1. Set an exact time to get out of bed.
If you normally get up at 11am, it’s unrealistic to start abruptly getting up at 6am. Think about what time you’d like to be getting up in the morning, and work up to it. Try to wake up 30 minutes earlier every week, until you get to the desired time.

2. Move up your bedtime in sync with the time you plan to get up.
Seven to eight hours of sleep is the recommended dosage for maximal productivity (with a few super-human exceptions). So if you’re getting up at 6am, you’ll want to go to bed by 11pm at the latest. If you try to go to bed at midnight and get up at 5am, you’re eventually going to run into some problems.

3. Get out of bed immediately.
The moment that you start procrastinating – read: hit the snooze button – it’s very easy to convince yourself of a multiplicity of reasons why you wouldn’t want to get out of bed yet. Don’t even allow those thoughts to kick in – just get up!  
[my new rule = my feet have to be on the floor before i turn off the alarm!]

4. Expose yourself to sunlight. [unforunately, this one is impossible this time of year.]
Sunlight is key to adapting your circadian rhythms. If you’re having trouble getting up, don’t close your blinds all the way, so you have some natural light as your wake-up call. Once you’re up, a short walk (or run) outside helps reinforce the message with your body.

5. Develop a routine for your morning.
Whether it’s taking in the sunrise, brewing a cup of tea and reading the paper, or walking to the cafĂ© down the street for a cup of joe, you’re more likely to continue to get up early if you develop a brief routine that is, in itself, a reward. 
[this has worked marvelously for me! i think about that "reward" as my feet are hitting the floor]

6. Stick with it.
Know going in that it’s going to take some time to adapt to waking up early – probably about 30 days. Don’t expect to feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed from Day 1. But if you stick with it, getting up early is likely to become one of your favorite rituals.

***
It’s a lot better to sail into your business day feeling like you’ve already crossed a finish line, than to put off your vital creative work until after you’ve devoted your best energy to other people’s demands. As designer and early riser James Victore said in a recent 99% interview, “I get more work done by 9am than most people do in a full day.”
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and that sums up EXACTLY how i feel since i've been doing this. i feel like i've knocked out A LOT by the time everyone else wakes up and starts moving. it's a great feeling and removes all the pressure. i don't feel rushed anymore!

Friday, December 3, 2010

dreaming...

i've been on earth for 28 years today. that's a pretty long time. feeling pretty old.

the next 28 years are going to be big. i'm going to leverage them with all i've got for some big stuff. big stuff for the kingdom. big stuff for Jesus' fame. big stuff for the poor. all the stuff God cares about.
that's the only way i can look back in 28 years and be happy.

that's what i'm dreaming about on my birthday.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

happy birthday = clean water

my birthday is almost here & i definitely don't want any gifts. (just read HERE or HERE.)
same for Christmas. you're invited to join the conspiracy.



But you can even give gift cards now to help build a well = HERE.