Issue No. 306 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting highlights Bill Hybels’ latest book—published last week—on 10 practices to unclutter your soul. It’s classic Hybels—excellent! And this reminder, check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
There’s no foreword. No introduction. Just eight endorsements. Ten meaty chapters. He’s taking his own advice.
Only Bill Hybels could get away with writing a 300-page book and calling it “Simplify.”
With the attention-getting subtitle, “Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul,” Simplify covers a unique range of 10 topics with the equally unique Hybels writing style: humor, inspiration, soul-probing questions, and practical action steps.
Here’s a taste:
From Exhausted to Energized. “When you decide you never want to live on empty again, you start paying more attention to the replenishment side of the equation.” Hybels says some of us “confuse motion with progress.” Caution: “There’s no point in filling the bucket without first patching the holes.”
From Overscheduled to Organized. His news flash for the overcommitted: “You are the boss of your schedule.” Hybels studied the schedules of great leaders across history (Churchill worked in bed until about 11:00 a.m., Thomas Edison was a power napper), but here’s his most probing question in Chapter 2: “What would my schedule look like if God were in charge of it?”
And here’s the gut check: “I am still learning that my schedule is far less about what I want to get done and far more about who I want to become.”
The book has dozens of memorable one-liners as you coach and mentor your team on how to unclutter life—and the symptoms that derail us. Like the third time a Willow Creek team member was late to a scheduled meeting: “You know, we used to think that your lack of promptness was a matter of carelessness; but now we think it’s about character. We think it’s about giving your word but not keeping your word. And around here, character matters.”
Everyone’s different—and every schedule is unique—but there’s a common mandate: ink it in your calendar. Noting that novelist-wanna-be John Grisham scheduled an early morning hour at his law office to write one page a day, Hybels scheduled himself at home four nights a week (focus: family).
Grisham’s big word: WRITE.
Hybels’ big word: HOME.
Then he meddles further with us:
What’s your word?
The book drills deeper with eight more rib-poking chapters on finances (From Overwhelmed to In Control), work (From Restless to Fulfilled), forgiveness, fears, friendships, calling, new seasons, and the tenth chapter, “From Meaningless to Satisfied: The Legacy of a Simplified Life.”
It’s been 20 years since I answered a calling to lead Christian Management Association (now CLA) and exit Willow Creek Association. Yet not a week goes by that I don’t reflect on a leadership insight I gleaned from Bill Hybels. Seven grandchildren later (I have five, Bill has two—but who’s counting?), I’m still a big fan of his wisdom and his writing.
Simplify, the latest Grandpa Bill epistle, is seasoned with almost four decades of what works—and what doesn’t. The writing is a tad softer than the Bill I knew way back when. Precious grandchildren will do that to you.
Thoroughly biblical, and stunningly relevant, the one-liners flow fast:
• “People join organizations, but they leave managers.”
• “…we are every bit as dedicated to building our staff culture as we are to building the church.”
• On forgiveness: “You can tell a lot about someone’s heart by how that person prays when he or she has been wronged.” (Hybels, who I call the “Great Labeler,” defines three helpful labels: Minor Offenses, Legitimate Wounds, and Life-Shattering Injustices.)
• “Fear is the fundamental barrier to peace, and it’s a deal-breaker when it comes to leading a simplified life.”
• On friends: “When you simplify your friendships, you are well on your way to leading a richer, fuller, more joy-filled life.” (Read this chapter to see why he suggests a “friends” worksheet with five columns labeled: 72, 12, 3, Distant, and Potential.)
• On new seasons: “When we keep trying to shoehorn our lives into seasons that no longer fit, we work against the goal of leading simplified lives.”
This will scare you! Hybels notes this: “A 2013 study by the Gallup organization, titled ‘State of the American Workplace,’ revealed that only 30 percent of workers are ‘excited’ about their jobs, 52 percent are ‘disengaged,’ and a full 18 percent are so ticked off about what’s going on at work that they are actively trying to do harm to their organizations!”
Simplify is perfect for your weekly staff or department meeting. Maybe pick five of the 10 topics that scratch the most itches—and inspire five people to give five-minute reviews, one per week. Call it “Simplify for Dummies” and award a Starbucks card for the “Most Simplified” presentation (which probably means no more than one PowerPoint slide).
One more caution from Hybels: “When we eradicate clutter from our lives, we create a vacuum that aches to be filled.”
To order from Amazon, click on the graphic below for: Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul, by Bill Hybels.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) Solomon noted 28 seasons of life (Ecclesiastes 3) and Hybels suggests you identify what season you’re in now—and ask (like Ken Blanchard did when he sold 13 million copies of The One Minute Manager), “What does God want to teach you in this season?” So what season are you in—and what are you learning?
2) When you unclutter your calendar, you’ll unclutter your soul, says Hybels. How many of the 21 time blocks of your week are allocated to work? (See The Team Bucket for a template.) “What would my schedule look like if God were in charge of it?”
The 10th Hole Trash Can Syndrome - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
Here’s a question from the Systems Bucket, Chapter 18, in Mastering the Management Buckets: “Is it simpler to order 18 same-size trash cans, or to customize the container sizes based on the volume of trash?”
“Most golfers are having too much fun (or anguish) to notice this, but my systems radar kicks in on the tenth hole at San Clemente Municipal Golf Course. The trash can on 10 is always overflowing with garbage from golfers’ clubhouse stops after the ninth hole. The obvious solution: Place a jumbo-size trash can at the tenth hole. Yet it’s not done because a non-systems person ordered identical-sized trash cans for all 18 holes.”
So, with Simplify in mind, while it may be simpler to order 18 same-sized cans, it would simplify the lives of the groundskeepers if Number 10 got the Super Jumbo can. Look around your shop: where could systems-thinking enhance morale?
For more Systems Bucket resources, including the classic book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It, by Michael Gerber, visit the webpage.
P.S. To read my latest governance blog, "Rooting Out Boardroom Dysfunction," click here.