Planning and Execution

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Execution is a strange word. In different contexts, it can mean killing someone, making things happen, or working intentionally. It is this last meaning that I want to elaborate. Execution is working intentionally. To work intentionally, you must:

1) Establish goals.
2) Determine how you INTEND to achieve those goals.
3) Spend your energy and time in ways that honor your intentions.


This sounds really simple, until we realize that we spend most of our time being distracted by administrivia, our own bad habits, and other peoples issues. Working intentionally, is plain and simply:

“bringing sufficient focus to a goal to justify ignoring the normal distractions enough to accomplish the goal.”


Unless you are one of those completely mission-oriented, type A personalities – you probably find this difficult. Moreover, the further the goal is away from your normal responsibilities, the harder it is to break free from the ordinary rhythm of activity to work on it. A wise man I met at my second employer used to say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!” While this isn’t necessarily theologically sound – it sure expresses how things often work out.

First I want to recommend two book that are excellent, one is “Two Weeks to a Breakthrough“, and the other is “Focus Like A Laser Beam“, both by Lisa Haneberg. Lisa is a management consultant, and a brilliant author of books on organizational leadership.

Then I want you to give you a few tips for changing the way you work to be more intentional:

1) Use your normal accountability channels – If you have an extraordinary mission, and you want to be intentionally about it, make yourself accountable the way you would for the rest of your responsibilities. Let your superiors, your colleagues, and your collaboration partners know how important this is to you and ask them to help you stay on task.

2) Reserve time to focus – Block time out on your schedule. Ask to be excused from meetings or activities where your participation is marginal. Work out some form of coverage for interruptions. Delegate things you enjoy doing, to others (especially volunteers) who enjoy them as well – find ways to free up blocks of time to focus.

3) Learn to say NO! – One of the most powerful things in the world is to say no to requests that will interfere with your mission or your focus. It is hard to tell people no, especially at church. People have so many expectations, and often you don’t know what the impact is when you disappoint them. You must decide that your goal is more important than whatever someone expects you to do. You must gently and firmly help them understand that you have been given this important goal, and the results of failure will affect many people. Turn it around, ask them to participate in helping you achieve your goal.

Last, I want to leave you with some ideas for executing well. Consult with others who have lead similar initiatives. Listen to them when they tell you what didn’t work, and try to learn from their mistakes. Measure your progress frequently. Mark the completed activities. Spend time with those who are helping you accomplish the goal. Articulate the goals, and make sure that all who are working with your understand what is on the line, and who will be affected by it. Make sure that everyone involved knows what to do, and has an accountability partner and a collaboration partner within the mission team.

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