Friday, February 16, 2007

the one thing you need to know

I read a very interesting book this week called The One Thing You Need to Know by Marcus Buckingham. I came across his stuff about a year and a half ago when I learned that many churches use his StrenghsFinder to help congregants find effective ways to deploy their gifts for God.

In this book, Buckingham gives research-based principles for different areas of life. Here are a summary (with the understanding that you'll buy the book if you want to get a better grasp on them):

The one thing you need to know about...
- how to have a happy marriage:
Find the most generous explanation of each other's behavior and believe it. (p.22)

- how to be a great manager:
Discover what is unique in each person and capitalize on it. (p.83)

- how to be a great leader:
Discover what is universal and capitalize on it. (p.132)

- how to have sustained individual success:
Discover what you don't like doing and stop doing it. (p.257)

He spends a lot of time showing how his research has disproven many popular myths. One of the myths that he believes is very common is that leaders are made and not born. He disagrees and says that leaders are born and not made. He says that the two most important characteristics of a leader are optimism and ego. (pp.63-69)

Buckingham proves that the most common formulas for sustained individual success fall short. Those common formulas are:
1) Find the right tactics and employ them.
2) Find your flaws and fix them.
3) Discover your strengths and cultivate them.

And concludes that the only formula that will work is to "Discover what you don't like doing and stop doing it." (pp.227-260)

I'm not sure of Buckingham's religious convictions, and he is not trying to make religious statements. As a former researcher for the Gallup organization he is reporting what he has observed.

One could obviously argue that it would be possible for God to call someone to do something that he/she didn't like to do or call a person with a weak ego to leadership. How this fits in with how God calls us to live and pursue "success" will have to be considered in detail by people who find this materal useful. I did like the book though and found several helpful principles that God may use in my ministry if he so wishes. I recommend the book.

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