Technique Thursday: Yes and No

I came across a book that had a helpful perspective on creating and advancing one’s life mission or company vision. Reinventing Yourself by Steve Chandler has many great tidbits for one to consider. One that I found helpful was where one can find a “yes.”

Chandler suggests that “yes” (the sale, the affirmation, the solution that works, etc…) is always found within the “no” (the rejection, the call that wasn’t returned, the book proposal that was rejected, the leader that didn’t pan out, etc…). The reason many people are good at getting yeses is because they aren’t afraid to put themselves out there and hear the “nos,” as well.

So, let’s be courageous. Believe in the thing you’re creating because the yes will be found within the cloud of no.

Technique Thursday: Deep Work

Malcolm Gladwell suggests that it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. Which sounds pretty daunting for anyone, right? Where can I squeeze 10,000 hours for that all-important thing that I’d like to enjoy or master or be known for before I die?

Well, if we can break it down to a weekly goal, it might be more feasible than we can imagine.

The trick, it seems, is to try to carve out what is known as “deep work” or a segment of time where the demands of others. Brian Johnson suggests that if we can get one hour of deep work per work day, the total begins to add up.

One hour a day adds up to five hours per week, which leads to 260 hours a year, adding up to 2,600 hours in 10 years. That’s not bad.

If one were to go from 1 to 4 hours of deep work per day, the numbers multiply. Plugging in that increase leads to over 10,000 hours of deep work in 10 years.

So, the potential is out there if we can put in the work. Channeling 1 to 4 hours of deep work can add up to quite a productive future.

Technique Thursday: Memory Palace

About four years ago, colleague of mine suggested that I preach without notes. “You barely look at the ones you have with you,” she said.

So I took the leap. It was terrifying and exhilarating, at the same time. I haven’t looked back sense then.

I have a bare bones outline with me in case our technology goes down mid-sermon because I still rely on our projection screen for long quotations.

This change in sermon delivery changed my sermon prep time, too. I came across a book that helped me with memorization: Moonwalking with Einstein. The book talks about the wonder of the human mind and an ancient memorization technique called loci, or “memory palace.”

How it works

The author, Joshua Foer, suggests that one envision their childhood home as an outline guide for the talk/presentation that they want to memorize. Then, simply structure the talk with memorable details in each of the rooms of the household. Foer believes that, with some dedication, one can remember a talk years later if deep memory work is conducted. If we can remember the house, we can remember the things we “put” in each room.

The above picture is the basic floor plan of my childhood home in Dublin, OH. Each week, I put the critical points of my sermon in each of the rooms, in order, creating a memory place for each talk, each week. I start with the mailbox (far left) and work into the house and into each room. Delivering the sermon, then, is simply strolling through my childhood home and narrating what’s in the room.


Have a talk coming up soon? Give it a shot. Tell me what you think.

Technique Thursday: 5 Minutes

I listened to a summary of Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Formula earlier this week. A couple of key points from the book have lingered with me. One of which I shared with someone during a counseling appointment this week. So, I thought I’d share it here, too.

When faced with a difficult moment, Elrod suggests setting a 5:00 timer and allowing yourself to feel the weight, difficulty, and grief of the situation. Experience the real, raw emotions for that timeframe.

After the 5:00 timeframe, a couple of things are apparent:

– we live in reality rather than denial

– we have the time to figure out what we can and cannot control. We gain a realistic view of the path ahead.

Technique Thursday: 10, 10, 10

While reading David Brooks’ The Second Mountain, he shared (in an off-handed comment) a device that he uses for making personal decisions.

In the most significant decisions in his life, Brooks employs a 10, 10, 10 filtering system.

Let’s give it a try. Think of your most pressing decision that you have in front of you. Think of what decision you think you should make.

Imagine what life will be like in:

10 minutes

10 months

10 years

Do you like what you can imagine with the limited knowledge that you have? If so, take your leap. If not, you might pick another option and perform the same exercise.


Technique Thursday: Streaks App

Thursday’s are for practical, pragmatic, techniques for everyday living. Today, I wanted to share about an app that is keeping me on track: Streaks.

Streaks keeps track of any goal, any frequency that I have. Currently, I have 5 goals in Streaks and it gives me the daily reminder to continue what I started.

It might be my personality, but I like a scoreboard and I like to keep adding to a score if I can. Streaks gives me that extra motivation to add to the progress that I made yesterday.

Check it out. It might be just what you need to get over the hump on that challenging task or discipline.

Technique Thursday: Work + Rest

I saw this talk over the relationship between work + rest that I have been trying to implement into my work routine. I thought I’d share the gist on Technique Thursday.

This technique simply tries to get the most out of our work by planning rest periods. I try to follow this basic formula: Stress + Rest = Growth

If we could see work and rest on a wavelength, we can see how a daily work period might be planned:

Without planned rest, we are tempted to try to have a flat line of production, sporadic work/rest or even to try to keep our production at a high level until we exhaust:

Instead, try to build a rhythm or ratio for work and rest. The one I’m working with is 90 minutes of work followed by 20 minutes of rest.

During the 90 minutes, I try to leave my phone away from my desk so I can concentrate on the task list that I have.

When I rest for 20 minutes, I usually get up and away from the desk so I can fully rest.

Give it a shot. Let me know what you think.

Technique Thursday: The Flow

I came across an idea worth sharing. It’s helping me calibrate goals and tasks for life and ministry. It’s called “The Flow” and it takes into account the combination of our Skills and our Challenges.

Think of Skills and Challenges on a grid:

A growth flow happens when we are challenged at the same rate as our skills are used:

If our skills outweigh our challenge, we become bored with life or work:

And if our challenge exceeds our skills we have anxiety for our tasks:

Therefore, we should seek to enter the flow, the sweet spot between our skills and challenges.