These Tensions Make Us Great

These Tensions Make Us Great

It was night already, I had just finished a meeting when I got a call. “I’m really upset.” Carla said with her very obvious upset voice. “Is it true that you allowed this?” she asked.

“Yup?” I said. “Why? What’s the problem?”

“This thing is not inline with our values.”

“Why not?” and I proceeded to explain why I didn’t think we weren’t crossing any lines.

She replied with her own explanation of why I was wrong, and why we needed to correct what I had green-lighted. After some discussion, it became clear that she was right and I was wrong. So I admitted she was right, we agreed on the proper next steps, and then I called two other team members who were directly affected to clarify the situation. Then I took a cab to my next meeting, finished that, did my evening routine and went to bed.

The next day, at our daily 7:00am huddle (Yes, we start at 7:00am), I shared the incident with the team, owned up to my mistake, and commended Carla for confronting me. I did this so that every single member of the team would know that not only is it possible and accepted to correct your boss at Bridge, but welcomed. I want them to be using their brains. I want them to sharpen their minds and use them to sharpen mine. I want them to know that it’s not only safe to question but beneficial, that debating doesn’t have to be disrespectful but is an important part of discovery. And I want them to know that I’m not infallible, that I need every single one of them to step up, to become really smart, really strong, really courageous, really excellent, really hard working, and really wise for their customers, for each other, and for me.

I did this because I want them more loyal to our mission and values than to me. And I told them so. “Your loyalty is to Bridge not to me. And what is Bridge? It’s this team embracing one mission and sharing distinct values. If you find me doing things that don’t make work life better for others, correct me.”

I think they got the point. I hope they got that point.

But then I explained my next point, These tensions make us great. These seeming contradictions, Jett pushing the sales to the edge, Carla pushing compliance, Eric pushing technology, Janna pushing process, all of us are pushing  to make our diverse responsibilities work, to make sure we’re the best at our individual domains, because there’s no room for second best. Keep pushing your domain forward. And in our pushing on all fronts, naturally, tension will arise, and during this tension, we will need to learn how to come together and briskly discuss the pros and cons in light of our values and mission. We can’t just jump to conclusions. we can’t just fee bad or feel good. We need to explore what we’re facing. It’s this process of cooperation amidst conflict that leads to breakthrough. So let’s get used to it.

Be so excellent in your field that you can’t help but challenge each other. Be so clear with our mission and values that we can’t help but refine our decisions with them.

We’ll be more than fine. We’ll be great.”

I didn’t exactly say it that way (I tend to ad-lib), but those were my notes. t hope they got that point too.

It’s these tensions that make us great. It’s these challenges that we overcome that lead to mastery, and mastery leads to confidence. I’m glad I have growth-oriented people pushing the boundaries. And I’m glad that the conflicts are settled with conviction and cooperation. I’m confident that someday when the world looks back, it will be glad that we did.

#db

 

Brothers Bonifacio – There Be Eagles

Brothers Bonifacio – There Be Eagles

When we were kids, my parents told us a story of an eagle egg that got mixed up with the eggs in a chicken coop. When the eggs hatched, the mother hen simply raised them all like chickens. Of course as time passed the eagle grew bigger and stronger, but because it thought like a chicken, it did the things chickens do and don’t do. It clucked, it strut, but despite its large wings it never flew, because chickens don’t fly. He never even tried.

One day while playing with his chicken brothers and sisters, an eagle flew over their farm. All the chickens watched the eagle soar, none was more stirred than the young eagle on the ground. “What’s that?” He asked. “That’s an eagle.” The mother hen told him. “Wow he said. How’d he get so high?” He followed. “He’s flying, son.” She explained. “I want to fly too.” The eagle said without thinking, and this caused his chicken family to laugh, “You can’t fly. You’re a chicken like us. Chickens can’t fly like eagles. Come on, let’s go back to playing.” The young eagle took one last look at the soaring bird in the sky, turned around and went back to play with the chickens, never realizing that not only could he fly, that he was meant to fly, simply because he listened to the chickens.

I remember what my parents would remind us, “You boys are meant to be great. You’re Eagles. But if you think like chickens, if you hang around chickens, if you do the things chickens do, you’ll end up a chicken. And just like the young eagle, you’ll watch the other eagles soaring, and know somewhere deep inside that you should be flying, because you know you’re not a chicken, but an eagle, and that you were meant to soar.”

I don’t know if this was an original story of theirs. It probably wasn’t. But its lesson stuck with me. Actually, it haunts me.

Whenever I find myself thinking or acting like a chicken, whenever I’m spending too much time with chickens, I can hear my parents voice and the same images in my head that I had as a child imagi ing their story, “If you think like a chicken, even if you’re really an eagle, you’ll act like a chicken. If you surround yourself with chickens. You’ll think like them.”

So I make adjustments.

They’re right. When you’re an eagle, and I believe we’re all meant to soar, watching someone else fly high tugs at us. We feel both admiration and sense of envy. That admiration, if unchecked, will lead to idolatry. That envy, if unchecked, will lead to covetousness. Either one, or both, if unchecked, will turn us into chickens, people watching others soar, clucking to ourselves with opinions, criticisms, and admiration, yet never realizing that we were meant to be that person touching the sky.
Here’s today’s reminder: There be eagles. They’re rare but you’ll find them. They’re not doing what chickens are doing. They’re not buying into chicken-thinking. They’re soaring at heights very few reach. They’re doing things chickens can only watch and wish for. Yes, there are eagles in this world. My hope is that you’ll realize, before it’s too late, that eagle is you.

#db

Missionaries Not Mercenaries

Missionaries Not Mercenaries

I wrote a post for our company blog on the type of team we’re building. As readers of my blog know, business is a big part of how I express the freedom and creative calling God has given all of us. I’ve come to appreciate the shared thoughts and ideas of other business people as I’ve learned a lot from. I told myself that I would be as generous as possible in business as well.

Building a great team is incredibly important for success in anything, and a great level of care and deliberate action goes into this exercise. At Bridge, through a lot of trial and testing, we’re learning more about the type of person we’re looking for to achieve our mission. Here is our list so far: Missionaries Not Mercenaries

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