Tag Archives: Goals

More Than Words

Servants cannot be corrected by mere words;
    though they understand, they will not respond.

Proverbs 29:19 (NIV)

A while back my company performed a “pilot” assessment of a client’s Customer Service team. We assessed a couple hundred phone calls between the Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) and their customers over a four week period of time. As with most of our initial assessments, data revealed the team to be pretty good. There was certainly inconsistency across the team. Some team members were naturally better than others. There was also a tremendous opportunity for improvement. Even the best CSR on the team had room to grow.

When that assessment was complete, we presented the results to the team, and targeted five key service skills for improvement. We trained them how to demonstrate these skills, provided examples, and gave them tactics of how to begin demonstrating these skills into their conversations with customers.

The plan had been for us to immediately begin an on-going assessment of calls for the team, so we could track the individual CSR’s progress, provide data on their individual development, and coach each one towards improvement. The client, however, implemented a change in their telephone system which meant we could not access recordings of the team’s calls for three months. By the time we finally had access to the team’s calls, four months had passed since our initial assessment.

So, how had the CSR done with the information and training we’d provided four months earlier?

Of the twelve CSRs on the team two of them did a bit better, two of them did a bit worse and eight of them were statistically the same. It was a perfect bell curve. Customers had not experienced any meaningful improvement in service.

In today’s chapter, the ancient Sage says that you can’t correct a person “with mere words.” A person may get what you’re saying, but they’re not motivated to actually change their behavior. That is going to require more than mere words and information.

Once our team was able to begin on-going assessments, CSRs were able to see how their service compared to their team each month. They were held accountable for their performance, and given the opportunities to receive cash bonuses if they performed at a high level. Suddenly, change began to happen. I’m happy to say that the team eventually became top-notch in providing service to their customers.

There’s a tremendous life lesson in this for me. Being complacent is the norm. Living each day simply driven by my appetites, habits, instincts, and emotions is really easy. Being disciplined, transforming old, unhealthy habits into healthy new ones, and learning to respond in wisdom rather than emotion are things that require intention, attention, and accountability. The Sage is right. I can read every self-help manual on Amazon and listen to every motivational podcast on the planet, but it’s another thing to actually make a change.

In the quiet this morning, I find myself in self-evaluation mode. How am I doing with the things I wanted to accomplish? Have I been able to actually change my behavior in order to progress towards the internal goals I’ve set for myself this week, this month, this year, in life? Honestly, it’s a mixed bag. I’ve progressed well in some things and haven’t moved an inch in others.

In this season of stay-at-home quarantine, I have the time and opportunity to review, recalibrate, and renew my efforts. My Enneagram Type Four temperament risks letting Resistance drag me into shame for all the things I haven’t done, then sic pessimism on me to convince me I’ll never actually do it. But, I know from previous experience on this earthly journey that shame and pessimism are wasted emotions. I can’t do anything about the past.

I do, however, have today lying before me…

<— Click on Solomon for an indexed list of previous chapter-a-day posts from this series from Proverbs!

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

“I Do Not Run Aimlessly”

“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly….”
1 Corinthians 9:26 (NIV)

As Wendy and I journeyed back from the lake this past Friday, we had some good conversations about our own life journey. The past 10 days have been a bit of a hiatus for me, as those who follow my blog regularly may have noticed. I worked remotely last week, but the focus for Wendy and me was on getting our summer place cleaned up, supplied, and organized for the season. I was out of my normal routine, and that’s sometimes good for the soul. Getting out of routine can often lead to new perspectives.

The conversations on the ride home centered a lot around where we find ourselves on life’s road and where we see ourselves going. We cannot predict the future, but we can certainly plan our steps. It was good for me to step back, look forward, and get my bearings. I’m getting back into my routine this morning with greater clarity regarding my aim.

In today’s chapter Paul continues to illustrate his point from the previous chapter: though he has a right to certain things, he chooses not to exercise those rights for the good of the whole community of believers. While he had a right to expect the fledgling community of Jesus’ followers to help provide for his material needs as payment for his spiritual leadership, he chose not to exercise that right. Paul had made this decision because he had a clear aim. He did not want issues of finances and material support to be a distraction or obstacle to his spiritual purposes.

This morning I exit a holiday weekend and enter a new week and a new month. I don’t want to slip aimlessly back into routine, but apply the clarity of aim that my hiatus has afforded me.

Flexibly Staying the Course

And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous; for thus the Lord will do to all the enemies against whom you fight.”
Joshua 10:25 (NRSV)

Just the other night Wendy and I were with some friends and we recounted a period of time when we all worshiped together in the same church service. During this particular period of time the leaders loved having a catch phrase or motto that would be touted as the theme of whatever new initiative happened to spring into the leaders’ heads. There would be banners and bookmarks and an official launch of the great new theme. And, it would last for a mere few weeks until the next great theme came a long. There was a lot of laughter around the table as we recounted a number of themes and catch phrases that had been raised and then abandoned shortly thereafter when the next “it” theme came along.

In today’s chapter, I found it fascinating to find Joshua still clinging to the word God had given him back in the first chapter. “Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or discouraged.” We’re ten chapters and several battles (both won and lost) into the story. Joshua’s theme, however, has not changed with the winds of war or shifting sands of the landscape. In fact, Joshua makes a point of ensuring that  the theme is not forgotten. He takes the opportunity of victory to call the nation together and remind them to keep focused on that which God had said to him from the beginning.

Today I’m thinking about the challenge of staying the course amidst a culture of social media, news media, web content and trending topics that reduce our attention spans to mere moments. As a leader in family, business, church and community I’m thinking about my role in helping groups and individuals remain focused on vision, values, goals, and objectives. Like Joshua, I want to hold course to the vision, even while I remain flexible in adapting to ever-changing circumstances around me.

chapter a day banner 2015

A Work in Progress

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Last night was our community theatre’s annual meeting and potluck picnic. It was a gorgeous Iowa evening, and we had the best turnout we’ve ever had with over 50 people attending. At the end of the evening, I gave my final report as President of our group providing a recap of the previous fiscal year. I’m stepping down after a decade in the position. Wendy and two other long-term board members are stepping down, as well. There’s a whole crop of new faces on the leadership team.

I will admit that I had bittersweet feelings about the whole affair last night. I have loved doing the job and I leave the position knowing that I have not accomplished all that I set out to do. I’ve come to realize, however, that unlike the marathon that is our life journey, positions of organizational leadership are actually legs in a relay race. Your job is to run your leg well and then pass the baton off so that the next runner is in a stronger position to win than you were when you got the baton. If you run too long and refuse to pass the baton, then you eventually lose momentum and the entire team suffers.

Both people and organizations are works in progress, as today’s chapter so aptly reminds us. I have a far greater appreciation for this fact today than I did  when I was younger. Works in progress still have rough edges to hone, opportunities to improve, potential to reach, and depths to mine. If I am going to accept this truth about myself (and it for my own good, and the good of the whole, that I must accept this truth about myself) then I must also accept this truth in others. It is a step towards wisdom, forgiveness and grace.

I’m excited about the new leadership team of our community theatre. I’m excited to see what new thoughts, ideas, and directions they bring. I’m excited to focus my energies in different ways. I may have passed the baton of leadership, but I have not left the team. There are other ways to contribute, other events in which to compete, and other opportunities to lift the team. Because we’re all works in progress, we need each other.

featured photo by funnyglowingsmurf  via Flickr

Chapter-a-Day Proverbs 2

English: map of Treasure Island, from the firs...
Image via Wikipedia

Search for them as you would for silver;
      seek them like hidden treasures. Proverbs 2:4 (NLT)

It is just after the New Year as I write this. The television news programs are running their annual stories about getting organized and setting goals. The commercials are all about weight loss. The newspapers (those that are left) are running articles once again about setting resolutions and how to keep them.

What are you going to do this year?
What positive changes are you going to make?
How are you going to achieve your goals?

I’ve never been big on new year’s resolutions, but as I read the chapter today I’m reminded that even God’s Message calls us to make choices, to look to the horizon and set the way-point of where we’re headed, and to determine what we will seek after. Jesus told us that whatever we seek after we will find.

So what am I seeking after? What is it I’m driving towards? Proverbs urges me this morning to seek after wisdom, insight, and understanding as if it was buried treasure. Is that what I’ve been searching out? Does that describe my heart’s desire?

Today is a good day to do a little soul searching. This is a good time to adjust the GPS and recalibrate my position. Set the waypoint for wisdom. Chart a course for understanding. Search for insight on the horizon. Hoist the sails.

We’re going on a treasure hunt.

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 135

Blueprint [Goddoes just as he pleases— however, wherever, whenever. Psalm 135:6 (MSG)

We can do all that we can do. We can have a vision, make plans, and execute them perfectly. Still, in the end, God is going to do as He pleases. His sovereign vision sees further and broader than our eyes could ever reach. His plans take far more into account than our finite minds could ever fathom. The execution of His will stretches into details smaller and more complex than we will ever know.

We can do all that we can do. At some point, we have to step back and acknowledge that the God of the universe will do just as he pleases; and then we trust.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and ryanricketts