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August 2006
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October 2006

Write It Down!

Last week I wrote about some points I make when I teach on time management.  There is one more point I would like to mention and that is the necessity of writing things down that you would like or need to do. I have just returned home from five weeks away and I am here for three weeks until my wife and I return to Europe for a working holiday.  I have five major projects to work on while I am Stateside, and have short trips to Seattle and Orlando booked during my days at home.

So today I have a few things to do:  write this blog, work on my online Bible study, clear my desk and process some emails.  Then tomorrow is Mother Stanko's 90th birthday party, so there won't be much work done then.  The next day I have a plan to so some things on each of those five major projects that are crucial to finish by October 22.  I will mix in some prayer, reading and The Monday Memo, and that is my to-do list for the next three days.  All of this is written down in my new Franklin Covey compass planning system to help me stay focused.

Someone once wrote that the problem with taking mental notes is that the ink fades so quickly!  You already make a list, but if it's only in your head, you are subject to distractions and forgetfulness.  My head is clear to think and work because I don't maintain a mental to-do list.  Mine is written down.  If I don't get something done, it's still there in front of me and can be rescheduled or reassigned to another day.

My system, which includes a master task list for future projects and one calendar for all appointments, whether personal or work, is a collection of lists and reminders.  I am not uptight, nor do I maintain a rigid schedule.  I am free to flow with the day, working on what I can, embracing important interruptions that come my way.  All this results, however, from a commitment to write down ideas, projects and things I need to do.

I urge you to abandon your mental to-do list in favor of a written one.  Try it for 30 days and see if it doesn't pay dividends.  Don't do it like I do; work out a method that is right for you.  Once your productivity increases, you won't ever want to go back to the mental list technique. 

Feel free to write your comments to this entry on the site where it is located. 

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Home Again

I arrived home just an hour ago and it's great to be here!  I had a good trip home--my luggage and I arrived safely and at the same time.  Now it's time to unpack and refocus on the things I need to do until I head back to Europe on October 22. 

After my day in Amsterdam, I settled in for two days of training that was open to the general public in Leeuwarden, a city about two hours north of Amsterdam.  We had about 12 people both days, so that enabled us to have lots of discussion and dialog about the topics I chose for the two days.

On day one I taught the first two steps of The Seven Steps of a PurposeQuest seminar.  Those first two steps are:  1)  A free leader pursues careers, ministries and activities that relate to a life purpose; 2) A flowing leader strives for a consistency of life in all activities, roles and objectives.  If you want the notes to those steps, you'll have to attend a seminar someday.

The second day we discussed various aspects of what I call The Price of Leadership.  In that session, I touched on a few of the things that a leader must embrace to be effective.  You can see my outline and slides to that session below.

I'm heading to bed, but I already have my objectives and plan for the next three weeks.  How about you?  What do you want to accomplish in the next couple of weeks?  I urge you to write those things down and then develop a plan that will enable you to do them.  Achievement isn't magic; it's often just hard work and diligence. 

Download price_of_ldrshp_netherlands_b.doc

Download price_of_leadership_netherlands.ppt


Amsterdam

I am The Netherlands with my friends Steve and Francine Heiks.  On my way up to Leeuwarden, we spent the day in Amsterdam, a city famous for its Red Light District and art museums.  I avoided the former, but did take in two great historic sites.  One was the home of Anne Frank, whose famous diary of her family's hiding in World War II is a classic.  You go through the actual home and see the small space where eight people lived for three years.  Someone, and no one knows who, betrayed their hiding place and they were arrested.  At age sixteen, Anne Frank died one month before her concentration camp was liberated.

Then we went to the home of the famous painter Rembrandt.  Keep in mind that he lived in that house in the 17th century and it has been preserved for all those hundreds of years.  Rembrandt's paintings are truly remarkable and they have quite a collection in the house itself.  I didn't realize how many biblical scenes Rembrandt painted, which is all the more interesting since he had relationships with more than a few mistresses during his career! 

I have one more day of teaching today and then it's off for home.  I am ready to go home but not before I train some young local leaders today.


Leadership Summit

It has been my privilege to participate in the third annual Leadership Summit here at Celebration Church in Harare for the last few days.  I enjoy leadership training and development, and I am convinced that the greatest crisis that exists in the Church today are the issues of leadership philosophy and the use of authority.

My schedule has been full and tomorrow I depart Zimbabwe for the Netherlands, where I will conduct two days of purpose training this coming week.  I just wanted you to know what I was up to; I will write more later this week.


2 Peter 3:8

One of my favorite verses where time management is concerned is 2 Peter 3:8, which states:  "Do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."  How does this pertain to time management?  I'm glad you asked.

I was reflecting on this verse one day and thought, "If a day can be like a thousand years, then I wonder what an hour would be like?"  So I converted 1,000 years to hours and discovered that one hour would be the equivalent of 47 years.  Then I thought, "I wonder what one minute would be like?"  When I did the math, I found that one minute would be the equivalent of nine months.  So what?  Well, if the Lord ever assures you that He will be there in "just a minute," you understand it may not be for quite a while!

How often haven't you started a project because you didn't think you had the time?  You think it will take four hours and you only have one, so you don't even start.  But if one minute can be like nine months, then the reverse is also true:  nine months can be like a minute.  Something that you thought would take a long time may require much less if you have faith that God will help you.

So what have you been putting off because you didn't have the time?  Can you exercise faith and trust that what you want to do can actually be done in much less time?  Can you trust that, even if it takes as long as you think it will, God will help you find the time?  Think about it and then take action, keeping 2 Peter 3:8 in mind.  For all you know, the project may only take a minute--from God's perspective, that is.


Don't Settle For Fool's Gold

Today I had the privilege of conducting a three-hour time management seminar for the Celebration Church staff here in Harare.  In 1995, I earned a certification from the Franklin Covey company to facilitate their program.  While the one I taught today is my own material, I do incorporate some of the things I learned from the Franklin program.

I call my session "Don't Settle for Fool's Gold," which is the title of the time management section in my book Life is a Gold Mine.  I actually gave out a sample of pyrite or fool's gold to illustrate the point that we are not just to be busy, but to be busy pursuing the real gold--those things that are most important to us as defined by our personal governing values. 

I attended my first time management seminar in 1984 and it changed my life.  Rather I should say God changed my life then, for suddenly I found myself able to use my planner, the same planner that I had carried in my back pocket unused for three years prior to that.  In 1986, I started teaching a version of what I taught today, adjusting and revising it over the years. 

If those who came today didn't learn anything else, I hope they learned that you and I can have faith for time.  Just as we trust the Lord for money, business or ministry opportunities, so we can learn to trust Him for the time we need to do what He has put before us to do.  To highlight this point, I referred to Joshua 10:7-14 where Joshua commanded the sun to stand still so he could finish his work.  The sun obeyed and Joshua had the time he needed.  I don't think you and I can stop the sun, but we can enlist supernatural help to use the time we have to do our work.

I am attaching my outline and Powerpoint presentation from today's session if it would be helpful to you.  We will discuss some other points from this seminar in the coming days.

Download time_mgmt_seminar_htwm_revised.doc

Download time_mgmt_seminar_2.ppt

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Israel Wrap Up

You're probably tired of hearing about my trip to Israel, so this will be my last post on the subject.  Tomorrow I will write about another topic.  But for now, here are my final thoughts on my return visit.

1.  Most Israelis I talked to feel like they "lost" the war in Lebanon.  They didn't get their soldiers back and only succeeded in pushing Hezbollah five miles deeper into Lebanon.  They spent $1 billion on the conflict only to have 200 rockets land on Israeli soil every day.  It also seems like they lost the public relations "war" that went on in the media.  Most feel that the nation and military will learn from this and be more effective in the future.  For now, however, they must live with the sense that they didn't accomplish what they wanted to do when they retaliated on behalf of their kidnapped soldiers.

2.  The best part of my trip wasn't anything I saw or anywhere I went.  It was reconnecting with my friend and tour guide, Ido.  I called Ido in May, but he was booked to do another tour while we were there.  The war changed all that and when I arrived and called him, he was able to join us and serve as our second guide.  Ido is great to work with.  As one agent said about him, "He's not the best, he's just better than the rest!"  Thanks, Ido, for your flexibility and labor of love on our behalf.

3.  The group I was with made more bathroom stops than any other tour I have been associated with.  We never passed a toilet that all 82 people didn't have to use--going in and coming out of the site, no less. 

4.  There were some changes since I was last there in 2000, but all in all, Israel is pretty much the same--and that's why we go there.  We go to connect with our past so that we can enter our future with hope and confidence.

5.  I'm happy I don't work in Israel's tourism industry.  One day you're up and busy, the next day you're down and out.  I am so glad we didn't cancel our tour.  When we arrived at some sites, they told us we were the first group through since July 21.  Many stores were closed and traffic at the sites was non-existent.  I enjoyed having the freedom to come and go as we pleased, but that isn't good for the locals.  I hope that things pick up again soon.

So that's about it for this trip.  We have announced another tour for next September, and I must have had 20 people look at the group picture I brought home and say today, "Next year in Jerusalem."  We shall see who goes and who doesn't, but in the meantime I'm glad I went.  And I hope to return next year.  For now, however, it's back to work in Zimbabwe before I return home on September 28. 

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The Flight Out

We spent our last day in Israel at a hotel in Tel Aviv.  Most of the people went shopping, some went to the beach and some of those have sunburned bodies today.  The water was great and the beach beautiful, but I spent most of my day getting ready for our departure.  Any time you have a group, you need to "sweat the details" to make sure that everything goes according to schedule.  I've often said that when you plan an event you must work hard and still many things can go wrong.  I've also said that you're only as good as your next event in this business--good events are soon forgotten, bad events live on in the minds of people forever.

On our final evening, we had a farewell dinner where we gave awards and took time for testimonies.  The awards were both humorous and serious, with some of them being "Shopper of the Trip," "The Linger Longer Award" (for consistent latecomers) and "Wrong Shoes Award" for the person who complained every day that they didn't have the right shoes.  Then we honor our guides and bus drivers with gifts and give them a chance to address the group.  Then it was off to the airport.

The security at the Tel Aviv airport was stringent.  They opened both my suitcases for inspection in my presence and asked me loads of questions.  But I got through and now I am in Johannesburg heading back in to Zimbabwe.  The all-night flight here was uneventful; I slept for about six of the nine hours.  Last year I spent 22 nights on a plane heading somewhere.  This year I have only had eight nights with about eight more to come.

All in all, it was a great trip.  We have already announced a trip for next year and we made plans before we left of what we want to see next year that we didn't have time to see this year.  Many have said they will return with their families next year.  As they say when you leave, "Next year in Jerusalem!"  I hope that's true for me and all others who want to come or return.


Tel Aviv

Yesterday we wrapped up our touring and slept last night in Tel Aviv, Israel's capital city.  Before we got here though, we had a full day.  We started out in Mt. Zion at a room that would have been similar to the upper room used for the Last Supper.  From there, we went over to the Temple Mount, site of the famous golden Dome of the Rock.  This site is where the First and Second Temples were located.

For the last four years, no infidels like me are permitted to go in to the mosque on the Mount or into the building that has the Dome as its landmark. That is a shame, for they are such beautiful and important sites.  But our Muslim friends don't see it that way, so we had to settle for a complete tour on the site without going into anything.

Then we walked the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus would have followed as he walked with His cross to Golgotha, wherever that was located.  I say that because the Catholics say the crucifixion took place on the site of the Church of the Sepulcher.  The Protestants say it was at the site of the Garden Tomb, which we visited on our first day.  The Church of the Sepulcher is a "hyper" Catholic church, complete with all sorts of Catholic paraphernalia and decor.

We ate at a restaurant in the Old City and then lost two of our ladies on the tour.  After we found them, we proceeded to the seaside resort of Caesarea.  There is now a walkway to the ruins that are on the Mediterranean.  The amphitheater there has been open for years and is always a great place to visit.  Then we drove down to Tel Aviv and that is where I am writing you from.

Today we rest and get ready for our all-night flight to Johannesburg.  Fortunately I am in business class, so I should get a pretty good night's sleep.  I'll write more tomorrow about our last day in Tel Aviv and our trip back to Zimbabwe. 

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Bethlehem Revisited

It's been six years since I've been here so we decided to go down to Bethlehem as is usual for most trips to the Holy Land.  But this is the first time I have visited since Bethlehem was turned over to the Palestinian authorities.  First, you must change buses to go there, since no Israeli is allowed to enter.  Then you must go through the new wall that has been erected between Israel and the Palestinians to keep out terrorists. You drive through the huge automated gate and you realize you're not in Israel any longer.

We were driven by Arab Christians who told us of Muslim oppression and difficult living conditions.  Everywhere the people were angry.  The vendors were angry as they harassed us to buy their trinkets. The drivers were angry.  Most of the Christians have left the area and you saw militant posters and pictures of Yassar Arafat everywhere. 

We made it to the Church of the Nativity on a Sunday, which isn't the best time to come.  There are three churches that hold mass in that Church--Catholic, Orthodox and Armenians.  The Church is a cool place, or at least I like it and you can cut the history in the air with a knife.  But going up the hill to the church and coming down wasn't a pleasant experience.  Then we drove out to pleas from our driver and guide for help for the local Christians.  Once through the checkpoint, we reconnected with our Israeli guides.

From there, we went to the Jerusalem Mall for two hours of shopping and eating.  I could have done without that experience.  Then we went over to the new and improved Holocaust memorial called Yad Vashem.  It is so moving and dramatic as the Jews confront the world with that time of madness and murder.  This was my first visit to the new version and it is spectacular.  The old one was great, but this one is beyond description. To see it in the Holy Land only adds to the drama and meaning.

Now we are back at the hotel, ready to leave tomorrow for Tel Aviv.  Before we go, we have plenty to do and see here in Jerusalem.  So I have to run and help the group with their evening plans.  I'll write more tomorrow to let you know what we did.

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