Thursday, May 31, 2012

Discovering the Leadership Algorithm of You

What sort of leader do you aspire to be? Perhaps someone like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, or Mark Zuckerberg? A plethora of research and literature in leadership development are deluging bookstores claiming they have found the secret recipe of success by outlining key competencies that made leaders like Jobs, Branson, Buffer and Zuckerberg. We, often, blithely absorb these key findings and emulate their characteristics. However, does imitating these leadership characteristics really guarantee it will work for you?  

MarcusBuckingham, renowned strength strategist and author of his latest book StandOut, discusses an unprecedented and fascinating approach to leadership development in the June 2012 issue of Harvard Business Review. This new approach is based on strategies content creators use on the web: personalization.   

Let’s consider Facebook for example. Log on to your Facebook page right now. Look at the column on the right, and you will discover there are ads that are somehow uniquely relevant to you. One of these ads may include certain restaurants that are near your residence, high school or college related ads related with your graduation year, or companies that you are vying to get work for. How does Facebook know all this? Because you unwittingly told Facebook on your profile page. Much like Facebook asks the question “Who are you” first and then tailoring the advertisements based on your profile, leadership development needs to follow a personalized model that focuses on “who you are” – namely your singular attributes and strengths that make you stand out – instead of following a formulaic model in which you are being boxed into a one-size-fits-all model of becoming a leader. A majority of organizations have subscribed to this ‘best-practice leadership.’

Scale Concepts, Not Techniques

Ralph Gonzalez, a top-performing manager at Best Buy has done something extraordinary. He has taken the team from the bottom 10% to top 10% on every key metrics. His leadership style was inspired by the young Fidel Castro. He named his store “La Revolucion,” posted a “Declaracion de Revolucion” in the break room, and made supervisors wear army fatigues. In order to boost the morale of the team he used the whistle to celebrate and reinforce positive behaviors happening in the store. So, whenever he spotted exemplary behaviors, he would blow the whistle. He scaled this technique to his entire department. The result? It brought overwhelming energy to both employees and customers.

Now, as leadership development experts in Best Buy identified this phenomenon and tried to scale this technique organizational-wide. They began attempting to code this whistle blowing technique into the fabric of Best Buy. Buckingham notes that there was “talk of whistle hierarchy: green whistles for store managers, white ones for supervisors, regular silver ones for front-line blut-shirts. There was talk of checklists: the 12 conditions when whistles may be blown, and the 20 conditions when they must never be.” What once started as a vibrant expression of a particular leader’s personality was fast mutating into a standard operating procedure. Executives realized this mutation would not avail and killed it before it spread through the organization.

Buckingham makes a penetrating observation: “The problem has to do with authenticity. A technique that’s perfectly natural when used by one leader may look forced, fake, and foolish when used by another. Richard Branson on the steps of a virgin America jet brandishing a champagne bottle and surrounded by a coterie of comely flight attendants make a bold, dashing image. Warren Buffett striking the same pose on one of his NetJets would not.”

The key lesson in this case study is that leadership concepts are scalable, not techniques. You can teach the concept of leaders capturing moments of excellence and celebrating it, but how these leaders apply the techniques may differ according to their unique leadership style. That is, what worked for Ralph wouldn’t work for people that lead differently. It simply will not be authentic.

What is Your Algorithm?
Hilton Hotels’s head leads a leadership development program that much on the personalized, authentic leadership development program. Here are five steps you can follow:

STEP 1: Choose an algorithmic assessment. Whether it is using existing personality tests like Myers-Briggs, DISC, Strengths Finder, Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument. They can create their own as well. StandOut, an online strengths-assessment developed by Buckinghman’s company employs a situational judgment test where people would indicate their likeliest response to a series of situations. I determined mine after going through the assessment and the top two strengths were connector and provider.

STEP 2: Give the assessment to the company’s best leaders. Choose the top-performing managers and identify what their strengths look like. Discover what fueled their success.

STEP 3: Interview a cross section of leaders to discover their techniques. Embark an in-depth analysis of what makes these leaders unique. Identify specific techniques make them unique. Some managers may benefit from using some of the techniques that are part of their leadership style. The challenge is to convey successful leaders’ practices to the developing leaders who have similar strength roles.

STEP 4: Use the algorithm to target techniques to the right people. Companies deploy the survey to all emerging leaders and cultivate them by providing practices derived from top leaders who have the same two strengths. For example, if you are Hampton employee, every Tuesday and Thursday, you receive an app that delivers a new tip around your leadership. For example, “David (lead strength role: Advisor) recently received this top: “Cultural differences are never an excuse for not getting alone. People will default to culture to explain rocky exchanges. More often than not, the issue is tied to something far simpler and more pragmatic. Get people back to the table to work it out. You will excel at this kind of pragmatism.”

STEP 5: Make the system dynamically intelligent. They system to needs to be smart in that it should get to know you better over time. This means with every app, this should add more detail and nuance to your leadership profile. The system should also know if the most effective leaders bank more tips than others, or fewer. 

Below is a video about Marcus Buckingham's new book StandOut. I've gone through the assessment myself (click here to check out the assessment) and the report is exhaustive. The report provides practical tips and advice. You can either purchase the book which comes with the online code or purchase the assessment itself. Definitely worth the investment!

Friday, May 25, 2012

What Will Your Epitaph Say?

Who honestly thinks about a question like this, right? Sounds rather morbid and horrid. I have never met anyone in my life who has ever crafted a well-thought-out answer to this question. I mean how many people, particularly the Generation Y cohort, would like to entertain the thought about their inevitable death and write an obituary of themselves?  I suspect they would like to think about their promising future and how to tap into their maximum potential. So, the question about their epitaph seems like an odd one. 

I first encountered this question when I assumed the role of a HR Director at my business school’s undergraduate student society. A key role I played entailed conducting interviews for our entire service council leaders which amounted to hundreds of interviews. My plan was to follow management guru Jim Collin’s advice and ensure that our interview committee would “get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

So, as I was researching the question on epitaph, I questioned myself who would ever ask a question like this. What was the interviewer really looking for behind this question? It became obvious to me the intention behind the question was a vastly important issue. It was a question about a long-term perspective and vision in life. The fulcrum of the question lied behind what values and priorities most mattered to you in life. By sharing your core values and most important priorities, the interview was looking for what type of goals, attributes, values and legacy did the candidate want to leave. Of course, they are measuring the answers against their level of compatibility of their corporate culture and value system.  

Now, thinking and articulating what your epitaph will say will serve as healthy nourishing exercise for us. Before I invite you to engage in this long-term thinking, let me share one epitaph that was personally mind-boggling.

William Carey famously known as the father of modern missions’ epitaph read:

Born August 17the, 1761
Died June 9the, 1834
A wretched, poor, and helpless worm,
On Thy kind arms I fall.

A “helpless worm…..?” As born again Christians, do most of us not think that we are born again creature that are pure and innocent? Who aspires to be a “helpless worm?” Before I read the epitaph I thought it would read something along the lines of how faithful and influential Dr. Carey served the Lord. Again, I soon realized the wisdom and profundity behind the message. This was a humbling moment. Being a ‘worm’ meant as John Piper remarked, “an indomitable servant of Jesus, who, in spite of innumerable failures, perseveres productively to the end by grace along through faith alone.”

The humility of William Carey is showcased through another story.
“During Carey's life he always enjoyed good health.  In his seventy-third year he became weak with illness and old age but he never slowed down on his work:

"I am now only able to sit and to lie upon the couch, and now and then to read a proof-sheet of the Scriptures; but I am too weak to walk more than across the house, nor can I stand even a few minutes without support." As he grew weaker he was visited by a Dr. Wilson, the Metropolitan of India, who was so enamored by the old missionary that he asked for the dying mans blessing. 

Then he was visited by Alexander Duff, who has been called "the apostolic successor of Carey."  Mr. Duff spent some time talking with Carey about his life and achievements, till at length Carey whispered, "Pray with me."  Duff knelt down and prayed, and then said good-bye.  As he was leaving Carey said to him, "Mr. Duff, you have been speaking a great deal about Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey; when I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey-speak only about Dr. Carey's Savior."

Wow…this man truly epitomized being “poor in spirit.” He knows that without God, he could have not done what many dubbed as impossible. This was the secret of success of persevering for 40 years despite all the obstacles – “as a homely man, suffering from recurrent fever, limping for years from an injury, and yet putting the Bible into six languages and parts of it into 29 other languages.” “The secret of his life was that as a "wretched, poor, helpless worm" he fell daily, and finally, into the arms of Jesus. When he did he "expected great things from God." And therefore he "attempted great things for God." He was a wonderfully fruitful worm.”

Now, let’s go back to the question about what will be written on our epitaph. I know God is using me in every endeavor to direct me to his purpose. I have discovered my mission in life, and I’m in the process of refining my vision and reinforcing my set of core values. How is God using you in your life? Start thinking about what your epitaph will say. I guarantee this will serve you profitable in the many years to come. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sobering Reflections on the Movie “Click”

Imagine you are given a universal remote control – one that flips more than just sports, movies and news. What if this universal remote control does more? What if you could control your entire life through the remote control, enabling you to fast-forward, rewind, search by chapter, and freeze-frame your life? Wouldn’t this be nice? I know this sounds nonsensical. But, bear with me right now and I need you to put on your creativity hat and read the rest of the article as if you were a five-year old.

Well, this is the basic premise behind the movie Click. Adam Sandler who plays Michael Newman has a beautiful wife, two children, and a good paying job at an architect company. He feels, however, like many others in life. Absolutely exhausted and drowned from all the vicissitudes in life.  This is when he is given a supernatural remote control from a weird scientist Morty (Christopher Walken). Before I share the sobering insights from Click, I must tell you I really had no expectations about the movie. I merely wanted to have a good time with my girlfriend – a normal two hour thoughtless escape from all the craziness in life. So the philosophical undertones pleasantly surprised me. If you haven’t watched the movie, I highly recommend it. (This blog post is not mean to spoil the plot for you.) So here’s key lessons I learned from Click.

Choices Make Who You Are

How often do we realize that we are at a crossroad in our everyday life? The food we eat, the friends we socialize with, the movies we see, the books we read – all these choices culminate into our uniqueness. It determines who we are, our potential for growth or lack of, what our future will look like. Depending on what choices we makes, we will either nourish or damage ourselves. Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) is an extremely busy man. He scrambles to get his act together as a dad of two adorable pre-teen kids. He also attempts to be a faithful husband to a wife who supports him. He needs to excel as an architect and climb the corporate ladder. Sandler is firefighting every day of his life. He attempts to fulfill all these roles, but he fails to realize that all of this cannot be achieved at expense of another. Thanks to the universal remote control, he makes ‘adjustments’ to his life. He fast-forwards part of his life where all the whining, arguing, and “meaningless or trivial” part of his life. During this time, Michael is on autopilot. After skipping all the bad parts and transitioning into the best part of his life, Michael realizes that though he has been widely regarded as the most reputable and eminent architect, he has failed in the most important part of his life: his relationship with family. He discovers himself as a total freak. He has gained over 100 pounds, dismissed his father who has passed away, neglected his son and daughter who no longer loves him, and divorced with his wife who has found an another man. In all for what? Career? Reputation? Money? All these efforts led him to an unhappy, unfulfilling, meaningless life that led to physical death. The underlying philosophical message is clear. 

The choices you make, makes you. Choose wisely.  Especially as young adults, we never really think about this, but choosing wisely is utterly important. We need to choose our life based on what matters most important for us.

A corollary question emerges. What are your core values? What are the most important priorities in your life? Many people deceive themselves by thinking they really have a solid answer to this question. The reality, however, shows so many people live without intentionality.

A book that I recently read from Andy Stanley entitled ThePrinciple of the Path writ large after watching Click which conveys a similar idea. Unlike cars and computers which have problems to fix, people’s lives can’t be fixed. Rather, directions need to be changed. Stanley says “direction – not intention – determines your destination.” We must break the cycle of self-deception and choose the right path which will lead to the destination. Please watch the short clip where Andy Stanley talks about the principle of the path. 

I would like to challenge you to write down on your journal on what matters most to you. Reflect your current lifestyle. What kind of choices are you making and why are you making it? Do know that all of these choices will lead to inexorable consequences.

Be Present

Adam Sandler struggles to multi-task the various roles and projects in his life. He is absolutely deluged with so much stuff going on. I noticed that he doesn’t seem to be “present” in whatever he does. He is always thinking about something else. 

Learning to be present in life is something I continually struggle with. I always seem to be focusing on the future. I’m planning every new project, day, and activities and become worried how all my efforts will turn out. The movie helped me realize that what all I really have is now. The past is gone and the future is uncertain. Michael Hyatt says that this moment should be a gift.

Every moment is precious and life is way too short to be squandered. Rick Warren is right: “life on earth is a parenthesis of eternity." If that still doesn’t ring a bell for you, let’s try to quantify what this really means.

Let’s assume that you will have a lifespan of 85 years. That turns out to 1020 months or roughly 31,000 days. So, you have a total of 1020 months to live from the time you were born. I’m currently 25 years and 7 months old (307 months). That means I roughly have 713 months left.

Now, let’s think about all the time where I’m inactive and non-value added things that must be happen in our life.

Sleeping – People spend one third of their lives sleeping. So, out of the 713 months, really only have 474 months of time (39.5 years)  that I’m actually awake from now.

Bathroom – People spend more than 20 minutes every day in a bathroom doing things they must do. This doesn’t seem much, for the remaining 474 months (39.5 years) this amounts to 6.58 months in the bath room. Now, I have a total of 467 months left.

Eating – Assuming people eat three meals per day, we can say it takes roughly 2 hours per day eating. That means I will be spending about 38.9 months (3.24 years) eating from now to when I’m 85. After all the eating is done, I have about 428 months left (35 years).

Waiting – They say an average person spends about 5 years waiting in line and queues (i.e., 6 months waiting for traffic lanes). Since I’ve lived 25 years already, I’ll estimate that I have about 3 years (36 months) waiting a line. This leaves me to a mere 392 months. (32.6 years)
Working – If I continue to work until retirement around the age of 60, I have 35 years left to work. Given that I work approximately 260 days each year for 40 hours per week, I spend time about 93 months (7.75 years) working. I am left with a mere 24.85 years.

There is probably more ‘sunk’ time which I haven’t included, but this leaves me to 24.85 years or 298 months. Out of all the things that aren’t listed here, I need to prioritize my life so I can include quality family life in the mere 25 years. So, do you understand now I don’t have 60 years left, but a mere 25 years on earth?

Now, think about all the things you have taken for granted. Your cozy house, school you attend to, adorable children, a good physical health without major disabilities, money to buy food and amenities. I became more humbled as I reflect over the plethora of blessings God poured out in my life. I hope you could take the time to really live in the present. Live with foresight, not hindsight. Don’t live life like you’ll have another chance. This is your only chance. Unlock your potential, achieve your purpose, and glorify your Author and Savior.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Spiritual Lessons from Viticulture

You may want to stop reading the rest of this article if you can’t answer the following question in the affirmative, since it will be a waste of time. Have you ever felt a disconnect when you read the Bible? The context by which the Bible is based on is one of an agrarian culture which starkly contrasts with today’s suburban culture filled with Costco, Safeway, and Fred Meyers. Have you often had difficulty understanding the message with your head but failing to understand with the same poignancy with your heart? 

If you find yourself struggling to answer the question with a convicting ‘yes,’ I encourage you to read on since you are not alone. Let me introduce you Margaret Feinberg – a godly woman gifted with such discernment and wisdom. In her unquenchable thirst for learning more about God and the exact meaning of the Scripture, she embarked on a journey – literally crossings thousands of miles in United States to bridge the gap between the head and heart. She decides to visit Oregon to spend time with shepherd, Nebraska to observe farmers, Colorado to learn from beekeepers, and California to study from vintners. Now this is what amazes me. Feinberg says, “If spending time with vintners allowed me to grab hold of one more layer of truth or depth about our wondrous God, how could I not god? How could I not share what I learned along the way with everyone I knew?” I truly admire her initiative and consuming passion for God. 

Why Vintners, Vines, and Vineyards?
Feinberg shares a story about her journey to Napa Valley. She wanted to gain a first-hand experience from a vintner’s perspective on what Jesus really meant by abiding in the vine. Before I continue, you may ask yourself what on earth does learning more about God has to do with vintners, vines, and vineyards? The fact of the matter is the Bible is filled with “three hundred mentions of vines and vineyards in the Bible.” In fact, Feinberg remarks vines and vineyards provide a backdrop to some of the Scriptures most memorable stories.” For instance Balaam and his donkey encounter an angel in a vineyard. Elijah’s spiritual battle with followers of Baal takes place on the top of Mt. Carmel, aka “vineyard of God.” Isaiah portrays Israel as God’s vineyard. Feinberg superbly comments how the loss of vineyard indicates a sign of judgment where fruitfulness signals God’s restoration, promise, and blessing. In Genesis, Joseph is known as the “fruitful vine” which is interesting because the vine was part of a dream where Joseph interested for the chief cupbearer. In the New Testament, Jesus calls himself as a vine, inviting us, sons and daughters, to remain in him order produce fruit. 

Lesson #1: Respond to Where You’ve Been Planted
Feinberg in her book Scouting the Divine shares her drastically different experiences with two vintners. One from Napa valley and the other from Fresno, California. The vintner from Fresno focused on techniques and strategies which enabled “maximum production.” That is, thousands of acres of grapes in Fresno were undergirded by sophisticated machinery and irrigation systems to prune the vines and fertilize the soil. Many of these grapes dried in the hot California sun in order to become raisons, grace juice or wineries. 

On the other hand, her experience in Napa Valley was very different. The vineyard was incomparably smaller than Fresno’s. The goal for the vintner in Napa was interested not in maximum production but rather the “character and the flavor of each grape.” All the work was done manually and the vintner ensured the grapes were touched several times and pruned the vines to ensure the grapes received the perfect amount of sunlight. 

It is unquestionable that the two vintners were passionate about growing grapes, but how their approach in cultivating grapes were drastically different. Here, Feinberg makes a sobering remark; “Like viticulture, caring for God’s people and shaping culture in a meaningful way is a labor of love. And each leader’s labor of love will be very different, but no less important to God’s work.” She challenges us to think, “What kind of vineyard has God called you to cultivate? Are you in an area like Fresno, where you will cultivate thousands and thousands of acres where the fruitfulness will be overwhelming at times? Or have you been placed in area like Napa Valley, where your acreage is limited, but the character and distinctiveness of your work are unmistakable?” 

So this is question what really got me: “The question we must ask ourselves is not, ‘how big is the area God has called me to cultivate? Rather, How do I best cultivate the area God has given me’”? 

My perspective has shifted with this question. I always sought for an answer of how grand God will be using me for His purpose, which I still believe is an important, valid question. However, pondering exclusively on this question without thinking much about how to cultivate the current land I am in will result in simply no action. I know God is preparing me in this city of Portland to equip me to have a greater impact to others. I just know that though I can’t explain it logically. I know God has entrusted me with talents and strengths that I could use impacting a large group of others. However, success is not an overnight experience. Most successful people have started with humble beginnings where they learned about leadership in the trenches. That is what I feel as of now, which I humbly accept and am grateful for. 

Lesson #2: Embrace a Long-term Perspective
How long would it take for you if you were to start your career as a vintner to harvest your first crop? Feinberg surprised me that it almost takes four years to bring the first harvest. The first three years are the most important as you are trying to establish a good trunk and root system. After three years you may alter the way you train your plant without doing any sort of damage to the plant and hence you pick the best method for cultivating the vine.
Feinberg mentions that most vineyards in Napa valley won’t reach a breakeven point for their investment until year 15, 18 or beyond. When Jesus says that He is the vine, we are the branches, this isn’t a short-term approach. Feinberg makes a comment that have reverberated me with all the time. She would sometimes look at her own life and wonder “Why am I not more fruitful? And why does pruning have to hurt so much? Why does cultivating a healthy crop take so long? God, our vintner, understands that fruitfulness comes at a certain time and He is being very patient with me. I’ve written before how mastery of talent is a result of what Malcolm Gladwell calls 10,000 hours rule. You spend 4 hours each day for 10 years, and you’ll achieve a level of mastery over the subject. Often times, I find myself forgetting this formula and asking for immediate returns and seeking gratification. This is a hard lesson for me to be patient with myself. But, I think this is something I must surrender to God as we don’t know the result. As Proverbs 21:31 says “the horse is made ready for the battle, but victory rests on the Lord.” The harvest of all of your efforts may not pay dividends until decades away. I know this doesn’t sound encouraging but we know that God will use our fruitfulness for his glory. 

Lesson #3: Understand the Power of Adversity
Feinberg in her journey recalls how pruning is such an important process in cultivating grapes. It exposes lights to the grapes which they need to grow. One vintner said, “If a vine is not pruned, the quality of the fruit goes way down,” one vintner said.  As we think about fruitfulness, we often realize that it comes through pain and adversity. Only through this experience are we able to surrender ourselves to God and have Him take our driver’s seat. Who enjoys suffering and pain? Think about all the vicissitudes in your current life. I know God has been pruning me all the time. Interpersonal difficulties, loneliness, cultural and language barriers, psychological deficiencies are several things that come to my mind now. Of course, in hindsight I can fully appreciate and see the big picture and thank God for His divine providence and grace. However, in the midst of the “crucible” I couldn’t understand why God has put in me in these excruciating situations. When you hear words “abide in me” what images conjure up? Interestingly, the best soil for vine isn’t rich smooth soil but rockery stone filled land. Renowned places like Château Lafite are three-fourths gravel. So I encourage you to think about what has been the greatest source of adversity for you and how did it shape you to become the person who you are now. 

Lesson #4: Avoid Drunkenness
Interestingly, the greatest threat for success as a vintner isn’t bad weather or natural disasters. It is temptation, namely temptation to imbibe excessively. We are keenly aware of the intoxicating power of alcohol in our lives. Scripture warns against the abuse of wine. It’s simple. Intoxication makes people stupid. There are more than 75 biblical references on drinking alcohol. Noah became drunk; the result was immorality and family trouble. Lot was so drunk he didn’t even know he was doing; this led to immorality. The book of Proverbs says that drunkenness lead to poverty. Feinberg suggest that it isn’t wine that should the only source of drunkenness. This hit me hard like a brick. Are you intoxicated with bad habits, inappropriate behaviors, failure or even success? Each of us is different and we all have frailties in life. What most tempts you and what specific steps can you take to overcome this? 

If you are interested in learning more about the Margaret’s book, click here for more resources.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What Does It Mean to Glorify God (at Work)?

If you consider yourself a fairly devoted Christian, you may be very familiar with the word "glory." It's everywhere at church: hymns, Bible, sermons. In fact, more than 500 instances does the word glory or glorify shows up in the Bible. Until several years ago, I had a general sense on the meaning of glorifying God. It wasn't until I encountered the work of Johann Sebastian Bach's that I really pondered the meaning this word. Bach always finished his cantatas with his signature SDG. SDG stands for Solid Dego Gloria which has been used to give credit to God exclusively in his endeavors. He remarked the "aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul."
What does it really mean to glorify God? Here's a simple explanation on the concept: 
To “glorify” God means to give glory to Him. The word glory as related to God in the Old Testament bears with it the idea of greatness of splendor. In the New Testament, the word translated “glory” means "dignity, honor, praise and worship." Putting the two together, we find that glorifying God means to acknowledge His greatness and give Him honor by praising and worshiping Him, primarily because He, and He alone, deserves to be praised, honored and worshipped. God’s glory is the essence of His nature, and we give glory to Him by recognizing that essence.
The question that comes to my mind is, if God has all the glory, which He does, how then do we "give Him" glory? 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 

9 ways of giving glory at work
I stumbled across a blog post from John Piper which he spoke at a conference called Engage whose mission is to equip young professionals in the workplace. The 9 ways Piper he suggests how young professionals can glorify work are worth memorizing. So here you go. Enjoy.

Dependence. Go to work utterly dependent on God (Proverbs 3:5-6; John 15:5). Without him you can’t breathe, move, think, feel, or talk. Not to mention be spiritually influential. Get up in the morning and let God know your desperation for him. Pray for help.

Integrity. Be absolutely and meticulously honest and trustworthy on the job. Be on time. Give a full day’s work. “Thou shalt not steal.” More people rob their employers by being slackers than by filching the petty cash.

Skill. Get good at what you do. God has given you not only the grace of integrity but the gift of skills. Treasure that gift and be a good steward of those skills. This growth in skill is built on dependence and integrity. 

Corporate shaping. As you have influence and opportunity, shape the ethos of the workplace so that the structures and policies and expectations and aims move toward accordance with Christ. For example, someone is shaping the ethos of Chick-fil-A restaurants with this video

Impact. Aim to help your company have an impact that is life-enhancing without being soul-destroying. Some industries have an impact that is destructive (e.g., porn, gambling, abortion, marketing scams, etc). But many can be helped to turn toward impact that is life-giving without being soul-ruining. As you have opportunity, work toward that.

Communication. Work places are webs of relationships. Relationships are possible through communication. Weave your Christian worldview into the normal communications of life. Don’t hide your light under a basket. Put it on the stand. Winsomely. Naturally. Joyfully. Let those who love their salvation say continually, Great is the Lord! (Psalm 40:16)

Love. Serve others. Be the one who volunteers first to go get the pizza. To drive the van. To organize the picnic. Take an interest in others at work. Be known as the one who cares not just about the light-hearted weekend tales, but the burdens of heavy and painful Monday mornings. Love your workmates, and point them to the great Burden Bearer.

Money. Work is where you make (and spend) money. It is all God’s, not yours. You are a trustee. Turn your earning into the overflow of generosity in how you steward God’s money. Don’t work to earn to have. Work to earn to have to give and to invest in Christ-exalting ventures. Make your money speak of Christ as your supreme Treasure.

Thanks. Always give thanks to God for life and health and work and Jesus. Be a thankful person at work. Don’t be among the complainers. Let your thankfulness to God overflow in a humble spirit of gratitude to others. Be known as the hope-filled, humble, thankful one at work.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Perspective on Emotional Intelligence


-          EQ vs. IQ at Workplace: The reality in our current workplace shows, rather sharply, the disconnect between EQ and IQ. Think about the company that you currently work for. Were you primarily hired based on your cognitive skills and technical capabilities or your interpersonal capabilities, or simply people skills? The truth of the matter is pedigree and track records outlined in your resume has a lot to do with your IQ. What you may not know is that IQ is a threshold competence. You need it, but it isn’t what makes you a star performer. What truly propels you to be a star performer originates from your people and interpersonal capabilities (EQ). I wonder how many people have fully appreciated this fact and have embraced developing themselves as an EQ leader.  
o   Here are two books that are worth the $$ if you are seriously interested in honing your EQ:
o   If you would like to learn more about how to integrate EQ in a group or team setting, click here to read this informative Harvard Business Review article
o   Science of Emotion from Neurotransmitters to Social Network
o   YouTube Resources: 
     - Authors@Google: Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence (full video)
     - Keith Ferrazzi: World's foremost expert in Relationship Development

-          Power of Storytelling:  People are naturally hardwired for stories. If you think about the so-called greatest figures that made a dent in this universe, all of them had a compelling story to tell. These are very stories that stick in our mind. I witness such power of storytelling at the first EDI session. Each of the stories by Jamila our guest speaker were punctuated with such authenticity, vulnerability. I found myself absolutely engrossed in her superlative performance of weaving stories into the tapestry of emotional intelligence captivating each person in the room.

The secret ingredient of such powerful stories stems its ability to galvanize people to “act” -  break the old time habit, to initiate new changes for growth and development, and to embrace a calculated and healthy risk in our decision making process. At least, Jamila inspired me to uncover the tip of the self-awareness iceberg through this my sobering reflections and writings.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cultivating Intercultural Leaders: An Examination of 12 Prominent Korean Leaders

What key factors contributed to native-born Koreans (NBKs) rise to prominence as intercultural leaders? In the quest of discovering the common denominators of their success, Kyung Kyu Kim and Richard Starcher, two scholars in the field of Christian leadership.The participants of this research involved 12 prominent native-born Koreans who have overcome experiential, cultural, and linguistic barriers to achieve prominence as leaders in intercultural contexts. The participants were intentionally selected according from three leadership levels:

- Sukhee Kang - mayor of Irvine, CA
- City council members in Irvine and Cerritos, CA

- U.S. Congressman
- Dr. Young-woo Kang - Advisor to George W. Bush
Wonsuk Ma - Executive Director of the Oxford Center for Mission Studies in UK.

- Bank Ki-moon - General secretary of the United Nations
- Yonggi "David" Cho - pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church, the world's largest church by congregation 
- Jang Hwan "Billy" Kim - Former President of the Baptist World Alliance. (Most notable for his superlative translation at the Bill Graham Crusade in 1973. Each night the crowd grew to a maximum of attendance 1.1 million people - the historical largest in the Billy Graham crusades)
- First Vice President of the World Trade Center
- Two leaders of Christian missions

The collective data analysis resulted in 24 key themes from which emerged 6 key factors contributing to the study participants' rises to prominence as intercultural leaders. The 6key factors fell into two broad categories: 
  • external influences
  • internal dispositions

Kim & Starcher notes that all factors emerged as equally important among the participants. They identified three categories to the extent of factors being applied to the participants: 
  • "Decisive" - those present in the lives of 11 or 12 participants (90%-100%)
  • "Important" - those present in the lives of 9 to 10 participants (75%-85%)
  • "Helpful" - those present in the lives of 6 to 8 participants (50%-75%)

External Influences: Family Heritage, Pivotal Encounters, and Academic Achievement


Family heritage had a profound impact to all of the 12 intercultural leaders in this study. Two aspects were distilled from the research: values exemplified and values taught. 
  • Values exemplified
    • Gimoon’s father was a good and generous person. His father was considerate of others and enjoyed giving to others. Thus, when people came to his father to request help, his father never rejected them. When Gimoon was a high school student, his father took in a friend who had nowhere to go, letting him stay in his house and feeding him for a year…. His father also accepted a friend who was cast out by his family because he had Hansen's disease. For six months he served this friend with love, giving him meals and encouragement. (Shin, 2007, pp. 100-101, 154-155) 
    • Yonggi’s grandmother was a very warmhearted woman who liked to serve others. Many relatives and poor neighbors wanted to live together in his grandparents’ house because they had no food to eat. His grandparents accommodated them. Therefore, 13 families lived in the house due to his grandparents’ generosity. His grandparents helped them cultivate the rice field and farm. In addition, his grandparents fed wanderers and travelers and provided them with a place to sleep. Therefore all the village people praised his grandparents. (Han, 2008, p. 61)
  • Values taught:
    • My [Sukhee] parents taught me to keep my promises to others. They always taught me the importance of gaining peoples’ trust. Thus, I always have made efforts to keep promises, even though it cost me personally. This resulted in people seeing me as a consistent man. This is my big fortune. One of the reasons that I got this position was that everybody acknowledged my consistent character.
    • Yonggi’s grandmother told him when he was a child that men should put others first, because if a man lived just for himself, both he and others would perish at the same time (Han, 2008, p. 62) Gimoon’s mother always instructed him: “Because a person will get exactly what he deserves, if you harm others, bad things will happen to you afterwards” (Shin, 2007, p. 29). “Be benevolent to others. You should live in a kindly manner without quarreling with others” (Shin, 2007, p. 155)
The key message illustrated here is that the soil for cultivating a successful intercultural leader is a healthy family. Parents and grandparents who pass on heritage values positions their offspring to succeed as leaders. 

*As you read on, I would like to encourage you to think about your personal story. How has your family heritage impact you to live according to your underlying, core values? What were some key values exemplified and taught in your upbringing?

Kim and Starcher defines pivotal encounters as someone meeting who profoundly changed one's life. All of participants were profoundly galvanized by pivotal encounters in which it motivated them to study hard, challenged them to become leaders, pursued advanced studies overseas, stimulated to develop self-confidence. The following are some examples of how pivotal encounters ignited motivation and how others served as a role model: 

  • When Gi-moon Ban, UN General Secretary, heard Foreign Minister Byun speak during his elementary school years, he was inspired to be a great man for his mother country. An encounter with American President John F. Kennedy in 1962 solidified his dream of becoming a diplomat. When Billy Kim met the evangelist Billy Graham as a high school student, he was motivated to become a great evangelist like Billy Graham. When Won-suk Ma met his high school principal, who graduated from Princeton University, he was motivated to study abroad in order to grow in stature. 
  • For Gi-moon Ban, Foreign Minister Byun was not only an inspiration but also a model of what it meant to be a successful diplomat (Shin, 2007). In a similar manner, Won-suk Ma’s high school principal proved an excellent role model for him. Likewise, after his pivotal encounter with Billy Graham, Jang Kwan (Billy) Kim emulated him to the point of adopting the great evangelist’s first name.
*What were your pivotal encounters? Who has impacted you profoundly and in which way? How did it help you to become the person you are now?

      Academic excellence was surprisingly not deemed as a “decisive” factor in these intercultural leaders, albeit it was helpful in their development in gaining credence for their leadership. Three themes emerged from the top 12 leaders. 

  • Excellence in primary and secondary school – 6 of them took first place in their elementary school classes. In middle and high schools, 8 of them were honor students. The remaining four were mediocre in their academic track record
  • Success in college – 10 participants were ranked as honor students. Among the 12, 7 participants graduated from top-tier universities. 10 of the 12 also studied abroad when it was difficult to do so in the age of time. Their overseas experience honed their ability to become diverse leaders.
  • Advanced degrees – 10 participants held graduate degrees, where 8 of them had doctoral degrees. For 6 of the 8 doctoral degree holders, a doctorate was vital for their attainment in their leadership position. 

Internal Dispositions: Individual Attitudes, Acquired Skills, Personality Traits


Five key personal attitudes emerged as decisive factors in cultivating the top 12 leaders:
self-confidence, drive, passion, optimism, and constancy.
  • Self-confidence - some participants gained self-confidence through parental encouragements; others through pivotal encounters; others gaining outstanding grades in school. All of these participants were not born with self-confidence but were obtained through life experiences.
  • Drive - The top leaders never settled for "good enough" but put their utmost effort in their respective endeavors. For example, Ban Gi-moon found Harvard's Kennedy School a tough academic environment, even though his English was excellent. One day, his wife called to ask her sister-in-law to stop her husband from studying too much. 
  • Passion - Among all the other attributes, passion emerged as the most common attitude. These leaders would sacrifice their sleep, food, reward to accomplish their mission. One participant's passion would not let him stop planting churches; he planted over 100 in various mission fields. One participant's passion led him to establish the biggest church in the world. Another participant's passion encouraged him to study English in the US for a year so he could enter and win the National Speech Competition in High School in Korea.
  • Optimism - Despite insurmountable difficulties in their life journey, they always exuded an optimistic and positive attitude. One participant said, "I believe that in the world, the person who has the biggest shortcoming is not the person who has weak points but the person who has negative thoughts and a negative attitude. Even though one has a severe problem, if he sees it through a positive perspective, to him or her, it could even be a blessing."
  • Constancy - The majority of the participants attributed their consistent attitude as enabling them to rise into prominence. One participant's wife reported, "My husband’s distinctive characteristic is that he is a consistent person. He cannot make a decision easily. He needs enough time to make a decision. However, if he decides his plan or goal, he never changes it halfway. When I saw the situation objectively, in my thinking his plan or goal should be changed. However, he never wavered. Finally, his goal was achieved. Because of his distinctive consistent character, he has achieved many things in difficult circumstances."
5) ACQUIRED SKILLS - Creativity, Communication Skills, English Proficiency, Cultural Competence, Interpersonal Competence. To read more about the skill sets, please click here

6) PERSONALITY TRAITS - Four personality traits emerged important (but not decisive) to participants’ rise to prominence as intercultural leaders. Nearly all the participants were tolerant, resolute, empathetic, and persistent. Nine of twelve participants were very tolerant, understanding, and charitable. The wife of one participant commented, “My husband has a mind so open that I cannot understand it. My husband tolerates and accepts someone whom I would never forgive and accept. I believe that the open mind is the gift of God.”Ten of the twelve participants had experienced various trials that would have crushed most people. However, they overcame these trials through patient persistence. For example, one participant said,
I have experienced many severe hardships in my life. If I could not endure trials, I think that today my leadership would not exist. I have seen many people fail because of their deficiency of persistence. The data indicated that a resolute character in decision-making was important to prominent leadership. For example, the participant who described himself as not being persistent had strong decision-making abilities. Even so, not all participants found decision-making easy.

Key Lessons 
  • Parenting to Cultivate Intercultural Leaders: "The socialization of children in the home emerged as critical to the cultivation of prospective leaders, far more significant than academic success. However, much in Korean society today militates against the inculcation of heritage values. The study participants grew up in a largely agrarian society in which family education was natural because families were large and several generations lived together. Communication between adults and children was frequent and often prolonged. However, in Korea today, both parents regularly work outside the home, meaning children are likely to spend more time with their computers than with their parents. A return to the old days is impossible. Therefore, we suggest the following strategies for contemporary families to promote intercultural leadership development: (a) instilling heritage values, (b) facilitating pivotal encounters, and (c) fostering good attitudes."
  • Schooling to Cultivate Intercultural Leaders: "Contrary to expectations, academic achievement or schooling emerged as the least important of the key factors in NBKs’ rises to prominent intercultural leadership positions. Perhaps the relatively feeble connection between schooling and leadership success can be explained by the disparity between the abilities rewarded by schooling and those required of successful intercultural leaders. Of course, academic intelligence is not a handicap in leadership. However, contemporary Korean schooling focuses almost exclusively on cognitive objectives, thus rewarding abilities other than those most needed in leaders (e.g., recall of information as opposed to self-confidence, tolerance, and empathy). Of the three educational domains, affective and the psychomotor (i.e., skills) emerged as most significant in participants’ rise to prominence as intercultural leaders. Without neglecting the cognitive, Korean schooling should place greater emphasis on character and skills to develop future intercultural leaders. One skill in particular merits special mention: English proficiency, which is crucial for today’s intercultural leader. Again, success in “school English” as an academic subject (cognitive task) is insufficient. English is first and foremost a communication skill whose mastery requires learners to step out of their mono-cultural, mono-linguistic context to interact with English speakers. "

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Living Intentionally: Running the Race for the Eternal Prize

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 

Philippians 3:12-14

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

The premise into living intentionally has inspired to me to author a book designed for young adults. I have personally seen countless young adults drift away from the purpose-driven life. I propose that four questions must be answered to live with intentionality. 

1. Why am I here? identify your mission, calling, vision
2. Who am I? discover your God-given talent, strengths, potential
3. Where to Shine? discover your optimal conditions to unleash your talent
4. With Whom? cultivate authentic relationships with whom you will most be impacted and influenced as a leader. 

I hope you will act upon inspiring the current Millennial generation in answering these four questions. Will you join me in this movement? 

A Framework for Christian Leadership

Try googling “Christian leadership” and you’ll be inundated with over 10 million hits. Numerous Christian conferences have raised and attempted to answer the perennial question “What is Christian Leadership?” During this robust discussion, concepts of qualities, characteristics, capabilities and behaviors were addressed; however, a definitive answer never seemed to emerge in the end. Bruce Winston, professor at Regent University, provides a framework that emerged throughout a 10-hour automobile drive where the answer of this question began to emerge. His spouse stated her observation that some character-flawed old testament leaders seemed to be blessed by God and that didn’t seem to fit the general notion that “good” leaders are high-character leaders.

The four key elements of Christian leadership follows the sequences (aka 4Cs):

Calling – doing the willing of God

Competence – doing what you do well

Confidence – knowing what you can do by yourself and what you can do with God’s help

Character – living a life according to Old Testament and New Testament character values
The underlying of the framework is that with each successful level of the four Cs, greater success happens.

Jesus’s words in John 5:30 makes a profound statement “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As a I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” The word “will” is translated as qelema (Thelema) that implies what God wishes or commands.  The same word occurs eight times in the Gospel of John.
If Jesus have proclaimed in different context that his primary role is to do the will of God, then it seems logical that as a Christian leader it is our primary responsibility to comply to God’s will. In terms of how one discovers the will of God is not clear from the verses. 1 Samuel 3:1-10 gives us insight into how one might know the will of God in which we find God calling Samuel. He thought Eli called him but learned later that it was God who was calling him instead. Dr. Winston notes that “calling is something that comes from God and is not something that one can be educated/trained to receive.”

God has endowed us with unique set of God-given talents, strengths, and potential. While knowing and acting on your calling without competence can still lead to success – calling with competence can lead to greater success.

There are numerous supporting verses in the Old Testament that support a need for competence. In Genesis 47:6, we find a call for capable men.

“The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know any capable men among then, then put them in charge of my livestock.

Exodus 35:25 also talks of “skilled” workers who were selected to make elements for the test of meeting. It is interesting that the preceding verses denote that these people’s hearts were stirred by God (called).

Exodus 35:21: Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the LORD’S contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments.

Exodus 35:25: All the skilled women spun with their hands, and brought what they had spun, in blue and purple and scarlet material and in fine linen.

In 1 Kings 7:4 also talks of how Hiram’s employment by King Solomon originated from his wisdom and understanding as well his skill (competence in craft): He was a widow’s son from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill for doing any work in bronze. So he came to King Solomon and performed all his work.

Most famously, in Proverbs 22:29 – we realize there is compelling evidence for a need in competence.

Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.

Calling and competence are fundamental building block for success, however, with a paucity of confidence the leader fails to maximize his/ her potential. Confidence in this context can be viewed on a similar vein as self-efficacy in that people perceive their ability to do or not do something. The focus here is on self-perception rather than reality.
A great example where we see this play out is the account of Elijah’s confrontation with Baal’s priests and then Elijah’s subsequent confrontation with Jezebel. Imagine the scene of Elijah challenging the priests to a contest in which the priests of Baal would invoke their god to send fire down and light the sacrificial fire. After the priests failed, Elijah took his turn and increased the difficulty by soaking the wood and offering with water. Being filled with absolute confidence, Elijah prayed and the God sent His fire which not only consumed the wood but the entire altar.

1 Kings 18:38: Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

Consequently, Elijah decimated the 450 prophets of Baal. This implies the calling, competence, and confidence. However, ensuing his success, we learn that Jezebel is ferocious and seeks his demise. Here we see Eljiah’s lack of confidence where he is ready to give up.  Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”

We see another example in Matthew 14:28-31 from the account of Peter asking Jesus to let Peter walk on the water.

Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

From this exchange, Dr. Winston makes a discerning observation that we can see that calling without competence (presumed that Peter did not get trained in walking on water) but with confidence can lead to success, but that calling without confidence (“little faith” leads to failure).

The prior elements of calling, competence, and confidence are foundational elements of leadership. One defining element that makes Christian leadership unique in its core is character. Though Character is the last C is the Bible has a plethora of supporting verses. However, when we look at Moses who killed the Egyptian, Abraham who presented his wife as his sister to the King, and David who committed adultery, character is not the determinant for success. Nonetheless, the righteous behaviors are the outgrowth of character.

Psalm 1 provides us the perspective of the upright leader who through his/her beliefs, demonstrates characteristics in synch with biblical principles. The passage below shows that a ‘blessed’ leader does not interact with the wicked nor participate with evil people.
Psalms 1:1-6: How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

1 Timothy 3 provides us with the traits and characteristics of a good leader or overseer as Timothy states.

1 Timothy 3:2-7: An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Dr. Winston makes noteworthy commentary on these verses:
From verses 2-7 we can see that a good leader must demonstrate integrity. What we translate as reproach is anepileptoß (anepileptos) that means to be caught or arrested. The intent here is not to do what is wrong and not get caught, but rather to do nothing that might lead to getting caught. In other words, live your life in such a manner that no matter how finely your life is scrutinized, you will not be found “in reproach.” In addition, in the passage, we see that a leader must be temperate nefaleoß (nephaleos), meaning to remain sober and not under the influence of alcohol; prudent sofron (sophron), meaning to curb one’s desires; respectable kosmioß (kosmios), meaning to be modest; and hospitable filoxenoß (philoxenos), meaning to be generous to guests. In addition, the passage says that leaders should not be pugnacious plekteß (plektes), meaning to not be quarrelsome, which is similar to the beatitude “to be meek.” In support of this requirement to not be pugnacious is the requirement to be gentle and peaceable. The passage concludes by indicating that the leader must be seen in a positive light by people outside of the organization. In Titus 1 we see a recasting of some of the character elements from 1Timothy 3.
Titus 1:5-6: For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict

"James helps us understand the character of a leader by admonishing us to listen well, react in a controlled manner, similar to what the beatitude “blessed are the meek” calls for, to be humble, which is akin to the beatitude “blessed are the poor in spirit,” to be active rather than passive, and controlled in his speech."

James 1:19-27: This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.