Corpath’s “Seventh Inning Stretch”

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters… (Colossians 3:23)

When I was 8 years old my father took me and our scout troop to a baseball game to see the Cincinnati Reds play.  I remember being so excited for two reasons.  First, to my young mind it was an incredibly long distance to go – a whole 2-hour drive from my home town to Cincinnati!  Second, we were going to see the great Frank Robinson, winner of 2 MVP awards and veteran of 2 World Series play.  It was at that game that I experienced the “Seventh Inning Stretch” for the first time.  The organ would play, and everyone was invited to get up and stretch, sing a song and move around to refresh their attention from sitting for hours watching the first six innings.  If your Forum has been meeting for a couple of years, it may have become routine.  You may be in need of a “Seventh Inning Stretch.”  Colossians 3:23 reminds us to work with all our heart at whatever we do.  So, what are some ways to bring refreshment and new attention to your Forum process which may have become routine.  There are many approaches, but I can highlight three.

1. Revisit the Corpath Vision, Mission and Objectives

To be diligent in any leadership discipline it is important to know the goal and objectives.  We have created a 5-page Corpath Vision, Mission and Objectives document that clearly identifies the passion behind Corpath.  A great activity would be for your Forum to take a 30-minute Special Issue moment in an upcoming Forum meeting to review the document and discuss – Does the Vision, Mission and Objectives resonate with us?  Are they being lived out in our monthly Forum experience?  After review, what may we need to change in what we have been doing to come into closer alignment with the Vision and Mission?  A digital copy of this Vision document for your Forum to review can be obtained by making an email request to

A second exercise is:

2. As a participant in my Forum, how will I contribute to refocus us, realign to the Forum process to increase value and refresh our attention on the unique opportunity that Forum provides?

One of the unique values of the Corpath Forum process is that we do not have paid expert facilitators.  Our Forum’s work best with peer moderators when everyone leans in and has a voice and is invested in bringing value.  The feedback I get is that the single biggest factor for Forum success is closely following the Corpath Forum Process. (Your moderator has a copy of the 4 Hour Process document).  So “Seventh Inning Stretch” questions may be, “Are we keeping our updates to the time allotted, so they do not take time from other meeting elements?”, “Are members using the Focus Presentation time and coming with prepared presentations?”, “Is confidentiality respected and open sharing modeled?”  If any of these areas are of concern for you, or you notice the Forum has drifted a bit – share that with the moderator and arrange to discuss getting back on track.


3. How will I frame the desire to refocus in a positive way?

One positive way to identify areas for framing the refreshing and realignment discussion is to work through a second resource we have available, 10 Success Factors of a Healthy Forum.  Dale Hodgson, one of the Corpath founders, put this document together over 8 years ago and it is still a great guide. It is a great resource for your Forum to talk through as a way of identifying positive practices to follow for Forum health and value.

The slide into ineffectiveness is usually not an identifiable or dramatic process.  It is usually a long winding road going incrementally downhill with no sign posts.  Kind of like me at age 8 – after 6 long innings my attention was drifting from the game.  But guess what?  After standing up, belting out the song, “Take me out to the ball game” and getting a fresh bag of peanuts from concession, I was back to full attention and saw Frank Robinson hit a home run in the 8th Inning!


  • Talk to your Moderator about setting aside some time in future Forum to discuss the “Seventh Inning Stretch” issues your Forum may be experiencing.
  • Email to request the Vision or 10 Success Factors document for a Forum conversation.

Corpath – John Wiseman

Advent Introduction

“For to us a child is born, to us, a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Black Friday is behind us and next week begins the Church Season of Advent.  I cannot think of a better meditation than the Introduction to the Advent Season contained in the Corpath Green devotional guide, pp. 20-21:

“We do get another chance!  The Season of Advent gives the church the opportunity to begin again.  Once more the full story of God’s grace is awaiting our discovery.  Once more we shake off the failures and victories of the past, and we get a clean page on which to write the story of our companionship with God in Christ.  Once more we get to listen and respond in faithfulness to the God who comes to us so humbly, intimately, and personally in the birth of Jesus.  Advent marks the beginning of the church year and lays before us the pathway of faith for the year ahead.  Advent initiates once again remembering, retelling, and celebrating the whole drama of God’s revelation.

The advent season declares the truth about a God whose love and resourcefulness have no limits. ‘Advent’ has its roots in the Latin word adventus, or coming.  This season proclaims the coming of Christ in the birth of Jesus, in the Word and Spirit, and in the final victory when God’s kingdom shall be complete.  Our privilege as Christians is to receive the gracious gifts of God’s presence in Christ.  Our task is to prepare for his coming so that we will not miss life’s greatest gift.

Sometimes the hype and clichés of the season distract us.  The clever marketing efforts succeed in making us desire tangible things we can hold in our hands and savour as gifts.  However, marketing hype and catchy clichés cannot answer the deep questions of the heart, explain the mystery of God’s presence, or help us comprehend the meaning of our existence.  Yet all these gifts are promised to us in the Advent Season.

In Advent, we begin again to try to make plain the wonderful truth of the most extraordinary good news the world has ever heard.  “Christ the Saviour is born!” 

John Wiseman – Corpath

Sabbath: We All Need a Rest!

” (17) You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” (18) But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today…” (Deuteronomy 8:17,18 NIV)

“but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. Onit you shall not do any work,” (Exodus 20:10)

As I interact with Corpath members, there is often a theme of busyness and tiredness that comes up.  At times, it comes out that they have been “on” 24/7 working at their business. My concern when I hear this is that one of the fundamental truths of Christian spirituality is to rest one day in seven.  Scriptures teach, ‘remember the Sabbath to keep it Holy.’  So why do so many in business struggle to protect one day – why do so many not practice a sabbatical rest?

There are many reasons I am sure, but I suspect one core reason is captured in the Deuteronomy text above.  We may say to ourselves, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”  Many leaders in business have type A personalities.  Many owners of businesses know that to be successful you must log long hours.  I have no problem with that and I am in awe of the strong work ethic of many of our members.

But there is a very small distance from having a good work ethic to build a business and slipping into a conscious or unconsciously held belief that our businesses will not be successful unless we work 24/7.  We must examine our assumptions.  Do we really believe that it is God who partners with us to give us the ability to produce wealth?  Or do we act as if it is all up to us, regardless of what we say we believe?

A more subtle danger is captured in the phrase, “this is just a temporary crunch time which will soon be over..”.  This is where we buy into the myth, that in 6 months or a year or two, the crunch will be over and we will be able to return to spending time with family, caring for ourselves, keeping balance, honoring the sabbath etc.  But, while the temporary crunch is on, I must launch this business or I will not be successful.  After all, you may say to yourself,  “..once I have achieved the wealth I seek I will be giving a portion to God’s Kingdom.”  This may end with the sudden realization three years later that what started out as a temporary “crunch time” has become a lifestyle with some dark consequences!

This week’s scripture reminds us that our personal efforts and strengths are not the formula for wealth creation in God’s economy.  Conversely, it is through relying upon His strength and obedience to His Word that will bring success.  This is not to say that prolonged effort and pursuing excellence in our business skill sets is not required.  Rather, it is to say that exclusive reliance upon our own strength and skill sets is not the Biblical formula for success.

At Corpath, we believe that true success is a balance between business life, personal-family life, and spiritual life.  To stay spiritually healthy, we must retreat from being “on” all the time to having solitude with God for at least a day a week.  If you believe that the route to business success lies through sacrificing imbalance for “a time,” you are buying into a secular driven culture laying a foundation for a destructive and unsustainable lifestyle.  Because “ is God who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”  Honor His command to protect a Sabbath day to spend with Him in rest and trust that the rhythm of resting one day in seven is part of the formula for success.


  • What does “keeping the Sabbath” mean in the context of your work schedule?

GOING DEEPER – Consider reading 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life by Dr. Matthew Sleeth on the keeping of a Sabbath rest in a technological, always-on world.

Tyndale publisher’s review of Sleeth’s book from Amazon – “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”

Sounds nice, but how do we find rest in a 24/7 world? Just as the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, we have become slaves to technology. Our technological tools allow 24-hour productivity and connectivity, give us more control, and subtlety enslave us to busyness itself. Sabbath is about restraint, about intentionally not doing everything all the time just because we can. Setting aside a day of rest helps us reconnect with our Creator and find the peace of God that passes all understanding. The Sabbath is about letting go of the controls one day a week and letting God be God. So how do we do it? In 24/6, Dr. Matthew Sleeth describes how.

© John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums –

Ministering to the Brokenhearted

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18)

As you read this, I will be just returning from speaking at the funeral for my uncle David in Ohio.  Although my uncle was a believer and the service was positive and hopeful because of his faith, it still brought a cloud of sadness upon me as I began to think about how best to summarize his life.  Because of the task of presenting the Eulogy for uncle David, my spirit was a bit crushed last week and today.  It struck me how difficult it is to know how to walk alongside those who grieve.  I commend to you this reading that I found helpful last week as I was preparing for the funeral.

“Religion is for old people”,” my buddy declared as we drove through the countryside. I found his comment a little insulting: I was a churchgoer, age 19. Was that so wrong? I lost touch with him; now it’s been 25 years since we’ve spoken. But he was on to something. At 20 the road looks clear all the way to forever.  We arrogantly waste time, try 100 new jobs or relationships or ideologies, believe any fool thing. 

The heart is not yet broken, not the way it is when time crashes down on it – soured dreams, career missteps, divorce, illness, the death of loved ones, the passing of so much we love. By old age, the ghostly procession of the “once-was” can be unbearable.

My heroes include any elderly persons who keep the flame lit, who still feel inspiration and outrage at ideas, current events, history, movies, books, national tragedies, spring flowers, the passing parade. Somehow they take it all in. Life enlarges their spirit, becomes fuel for the remaining journey, seasoned with humour, not bitterness. They age with dignity. Part of the dignity is keeping the inevitable heartbreak framed by larger perspectives and by going deeper into the grief, not denying it. 

From  A Turbulent Peace by Ray Waddle

The key phrase from the reading is, “Part of the dignity is keeping the inevitable heartbreak framed by larger perspectives and be going deeper into the grief, not denying it.”  My spirit was lifted when I framed the loss in the larger perspective that for us Christians, death is but a door to where we are meant to be – with God in the place he has prepared for us.  The Lord drew near to me in this realization and made the loss so much easier to bear.


  • What is the policy at your business for bereavement leave?
  • How will you support an employee or staff person who has suffered a loss?
  • Discuss with your Forum how each Forum member has planned for the inevitable time when someone on your staff or a key customer may need someone to share their grief and perhaps articulate a larger perspective on death than they had previously imagined.

Corpath – John Wiseman

Showing Respect in the Workplace

“Show proper respect to everyone…” (I Peter 2:17)

Last week at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit Pastor Bill Hybels used this verse as one of his central texts in discussing the attributes of leadership.  Referring to the current societal atmosphere of divisiveness and disrespect which seems to be getting worse, the question for us as leaders is how do we go against our culture and lead with respect for others?  Or more specifically, for us in the marketplace, what does respect look like for a business leader?  We could probably list at least a dozen rules about respect in the workplace, but I would like to focus this morning on 3 key concepts:

1. “Value people for who they are, rather than for what they do.”

We all fall into the unhealthy practice of grounding our self-identity in what we do vocationally.  Ironically, although we all do this, no one wants to have their personal value reduced to what they DO.  Rather, most of us want to be valued for who we ARE.

For example, Fred is a custodian at a local manufacturing company.  He also happens to be a gifted poet whose poems have brought meaning and insight for people.  So, is he a janitor, or a poet?  If we only relate to Fred and value him for how clean he keeps the lunch room and the bathrooms, as useful as that is, we disrespect him as a person.  Similarly, if we only relate to our employees or colleagues in the workplace in relation to their vocational function they may feel disrespected.

2. “Don’t interrupt and don’t dominate in conversation.” 

As leaders, we may sometimes lose patience with trying to follow the other person’s line of thought when talking with a subordinate.  In a moment of impatience, what often happens is, even while listening, we are already formulating our response and may break in and say, “Actually, here is what I need you to do..”  If this dominating behaviour is done often enough, it causes those we seek to lead to shut down and no longer share their thoughts with us.  Leadership is influence.  If you as a leader do not practice active listening and dominate conversations, you will lose influence with those you are seeking to lead.  This reduces productivity and may even lead to employee turnover.

3. “Differ with others, without demonizing them.”

In business, politics, indeed in almost all human endeavours – we will have differences of opinion.  If we do not agree to differ while maintaining respect for the other side, we come across as disrespectful.  To use a contemporary example, Donald Trump the US President has shown a persistent habit of characterizing anyone who disagrees with him as a “loser” or as “crooked” or as promoting “fake news” which is equivalent to calling them a liar.  Regardless of how you view President Trump’s presidency, it is clear from a leadership perspective that this practice is disrespectful and causing him to lose the respect of other leaders and governments.

Christ calls us to respect the person even if we disagree with their position.  If that basic respect is maintained, you may eventually win someone over to your viewpoint.  If you demonize the other person because of their differing position, you break trust and lose any hope of a future fair exchange of ideas.


  1.  In the next month, how will you value someone in your business for who they are rather than for what they do?  Share how you will do this with your Forum.
  2. Think of someone who holds a very different position from you on some issue.  Practice mindfulness of your reaction to them.  Seek to separate their position from their person.  What positive personal attribute can you appreciate about them?  In your next interaction, seek to praise them for their positive personal attribute that you admire.  Reflect on how that changes your relationship with them.

Corpath – John Wiseman

Preparing Your Spirit for Prayer

Last week two readings from the Corpath Green Guide, A Guide to Prayer (pp. 371ff) hit me where I live and caused me to rethink the anxiety that I allow to come into my prayer life. I hope they challenge you to approach your prayer life from a more quiet perspective as they challenged me.

One reason we have difficulty praying is that we are unable to quiet down enough to become sensitive to the movements of the Spirit. This usually happens because we have been living our lives at too fast of a pace. Rushing from one activity to the next, we lose touch with the Spirit.

We are not moving against the Spirit in a sinful way, but we are not allowing the Spirit to infuse our activities, enabling us to perform them in peace and joy. Finding ourselves anxious and worried both about the result of our work and about getting it all finished within the allotted time, we come to prayer restless and find it almost impossible to quiet our minds in a way that allows us to be sensitive to the movements of the Spirit. Since we cannot allow the Spirit to bring us to the Lord, we began composing our own monologue to the Lord, expressing our own needs and concerns, often in a rushed and rather compulsive way. It often seems that we could be using our time more effectively by skipping prayer and finishing the work we left undone.

Prayer will remain difficult until we develop a rhythm of life that enables us to work in tune with the Spirit, thus experiencing the peace and joy that flows from the Spirits presence. If we are living in tune with the Spirit during the day, it is easy to allow the Spirit to unite us to the Lord during prayer.

From In His Spirit by Richard J Hauser

The action of those whose lives are given to the Spirit has in it something of the leisure of eternity; and because of this, they achieve far more than those whose lives are enslaved by the rush and hurry, the unceasing tick-tick of the world.

In the Spiritual life, it is very important to get our timing right. Otherwise, we tend to forget that God, who is greater than our heart, is greater than our job as well. It’s only when we have learned all that this means that we possess the key to the Kingdom of Heaven.

From The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill

[If you missed the annual prayer breakfast – I believe you will benefit by watching Preston Manning’s address. The video and a PDF of the text of his talk may be found below:]

Corpath – John Wiseman

Is a Time to Forgive a Time to Forget?

The give and take of competition, employee relations, team building, and the dynamics of hiring and firing in business is relationally complicated.  Sometimes the line between forgiving each other for mistakes or bad decisions and forgetting about those decisions becomes blurred.  This week’s meditation is by C. William Pollard who discusses how forgiving and forgetting was worked out in several cases from his business – ServiceMaster.

“The writer of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes reminds us there is a time for everything. This includes a time to forgive, but does it include a time to forget?

At ServiceMaster, forgiveness among us as board members and in our relationships with company officers is an important contributing factor to the success of the firm. When leaders fail or make mistakes, the pain of identification and resolution can often test the vitality and life of the firm.

As your CEO, there have been times when I have failed you and have needed your forgiveness. The mistakes I have made that have hurt the most are those that have resulted in broken relationships with a colleague. 

Several years ago, I had such a painful experience with one of our senior officers. His employment was terminated and you, as a board, supported my decision. His case ended up in court and was finally settled with no real winners. After the settlement, the two of us met. We forgave each other for the mistakes we have made and then he asked if he could be re-employed at the same level of responsibility as before the termination. My answer was no. I had forgiven him but had not forgotten. If he wanted to come back and work with me to reestablish a relationship of trust, I was willing to proceed on that basis. But he could not come back with the same level of confidence and trust that we enjoyed before the termination. He chose not to proceed on this basis. 

Soon after, I had another painful experience with an officer of the firm. He was a productive and capable leader who chose to leave us and go work for a competitor. His case also ended up in court, but before the final resolution, he expressed a desire to come back to ServiceMaster. We met and had an open discussion about the reasons for his leaving and about my disappointment that he had gone with a competitor. As is often the case, there was a fault on both sides. We forgave each other and agreed on a plan for him to come back in a position that would allow both of us to regain a relationship of confidence and trust. Now, more than two years later, that relationship has been restored. He’s a productive member of the team. The memories relating to the circumstances of his leaving have faded and are no longer relevant.

The reality of human relationships suggests that the separation of forgiving from forgetting is not only normal but prudent.

There is only one relationship I am aware of where the acts of forgiving and forgetting come together simultaneously. It occurs when a person chooses to have a relationship with God through the power and work of His son Jesus Christ. When that occurs, referred to by some as being born again, our sins and failure our not only forgiven but are forgotten by a God who removes them as far as the east is from the west. [Psalm 103:12]. It is a miracle only God can perform. As He forgives He forgets.”


  • Is there a relationship within your company or with vendors or customers where you have forgiven but not forgotten? How can you begin building a relationship of trust with that person.

Corpath – John Wiseman

Excerpttaken from, William Pollard,  Serving Two Masters, pp. 117-119 – A CEO’s devotional thoughts for his Board of Directors.

A Prayer of Mindfullness

Throughout Christian history followers of Christ have used various spiritual practices to keep themselves focused upon God and to resist the pull to be consumed by concerns of this world.  The strongest of these practices is daily prayer.  The Lord recognized this practice and taught the Lord’s Prayer to His disciples, and to us in Matthew 6:9-15.  I also commend to you the prayer below for use this week.  I would encourage you to pray this mindfulness prayer each morning this week to help you to stay centered spiritually throughout the week.

Eternal God, although I cannot see You with my eyes or touch You with my hands, give me today a clear conviction of Your reality and power. Do not let me go into my work believing only in the world of sense and time, but give me the grace to understand that the world I cannot see or touch is the most real world of all.

My life today will be lived in time, but it will involve eternal issues.

The needs of my body will shout out, but it is the needs of my soul that I must care the most. My business will be with material things, but let me be aware of spiritual things behind them. Let me always keep in mind that the things that matter are not money or possessions, nor houses or property, not bodily comforts or pleasures, but truth and honour and gentleness and helpfulness and a pure love of You.

Thank You, Lord:

For the power You have given me to grasp things unseen;
for the strong sense I have that this is not my eternal home;
for my restless heart which nothing finite can satisfy.

Thank You, Lord:

For sending Your Spirit to fill my heart;
for all the human love and goodness that speaks to me of You;
for the fullness of Your glory poured out in Jesus Christ.

On my journey towards eternity, I come before You, the eternal One.
Let me not try to deaden or destroyed the desire for You that disturbs my heart.
Let me rather give myself over to His persuasion and go where it leads me.
Make me wise today to see all things within the dimension of eternity and make me brave to face all the changes in my life that come from this vision;
through the Grace of Christ my Saviour. Amen

[From A Diary of Private Prayer, by John Baillie, page 47] 

Corpath – John Wiseman

Are You Doing Better Spiritually This Year Than Last? How Do You Know?

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”  (Philippians 1:9-11. NIV) 
I sent this meditation out the first week of January this year and in the last month have had occasion to share it with two groups.  It is timely to re-send it this long weekend for your consideration.
If I were to ask any Corpath member the question, “Is your business doing better or worse than this time last year?”  I am pretty sure most of you would have a quick answer.  If I followed your answer with another question, “How do you know?”  Again, most of you would give me data from a system that you have devised to track business progress elements. 
Some businesses use the balanced scorecard approach.  They track the four areas of Finance, Customer Satisfaction, Internal Processes and Organizational Capacity and Knowledge.  Others develop their own dashboard of metrics that, collected and reviewed over time, will tell them how they are doing.
Paul’s prayer for the new Christians in Phillipi was that their faith and love for each other would, “…abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”  So, I could ask each of us, “Is your spiritual life, your knowledge, and depth of insight of faith and love of Christ, doing better or worse than this time last year?”  And the other question would apply as well, “How do you know??
We spend lots of effort and discipline in tracking the business sphere in our lives.  I think God would be pleased to see Christian business leaders of faith apply those same skill sets to track spiritual progress in their lives as well.  This raises the issue of how does one track spiritual progress?  Is it possible to develop a balanced or a set of dashboard metrics and procedures for faith development and prayer over time?  I believe it is.
PRAYER TRACKING – Although I struggle to maintain my daily prayer journal, over the last 12 years I have been using the following systems of recording, in point form, the activities in my prayer life:
 Use a SQUARE symbol whenever you petition God for a prayer request.  Be as specific as you can.
 Use a CIRCLE (the symbol of completion) when you receive an answer to prayer.  Try to connect it in your journal to the date you recorded the prayer.
 Use a TRIANGLE (the mathematical symbol for God or Trinity) to mark those times when you receive God inspired insights into life events or scripture meaning and application.
 Use a STAR to signify those Epiphanies that God bestows upon you as you put effort into knowing him and his will. These may only happen every few months or only a couple of times a year.  Reserve the star for more than just insightful moments, but truly significant moments or episodes of deep spiritual formation.  If you seek them diligently, God’s promise is that they will come to you.

The real value of this system is the knowledge you gain, and the patterns of slow progress that you see in your prayer life as you go back periodically and review your entries under these symbols

I try to review each month to see if prayers are being answered (and I give thanks for those), am I receiving and recording insights from God?  Each Christmas break, I review my whole years’ journal and take a whole morning to record a summary of what God has done in my prayer life.  This helps me set goals for the new year, and gives me confidence and clear examples of spiritual progress in my life.  Why not start a journal now and review your entries at the end of 2017 to see what you might discover?

Next Week – Bible Reading


  • Is your spiritual life better this year than last?  How do you know?
  • Do you approach regular prayer and bible reading as a duty, or as a joy?

Corpath – John Wiseman

Working On or Working IN?

Several times in the past month I have had conversations with Corpath members where the topic was their need to hire a leader to run operations so that they can free up more time to work on strategy, business development and tasks that only they can do. In light of these discussions, it is timely to send out a message from Steve Shrout of Metro News who shared today’s message on his blog a few years ago.

Whatever your position of leadership within the organization, whether a shift supervisor or CEO, it is important to know when it’s time to be working ON the business and when it’s necessary to inject yourself IN the business. Although it sounds too much like common sense, I believe few people have ever stopped to consider this thought.

FIRST, let’s discuss what it means to be “Working ON…”

Working ON the business can be summed up as those activities that requires us to engage in intellectual processing as we develop and position our business for growth. These activities can involve, but not be limited to, strategic planning, discussions for the purpose of exploration and partnership, contemplating staff reviews and organizational structure or even reviewing competitive positions and our potential responses to them.

Typically, working ON the business requires us to find some “think-time” to review our objectives and devise steps that will help us accomplish them.

I can recall launching a few newspapers from “scratch” over the years and know that taking time to make plans before starting something new can save pains later. Taking time to think will help us perform better when it’s time to act. Aggressive thinking can help us remain on the path to proactive growth and keep us away from being reactive in times of crisis.

Sadly, many leaders and executives fail to see the value and importance in taking time to break away from their operational duties to spend critical time thinking of strategies, positions and next steps for themselves and their staff or the business in general. They sometimes have a false sense of self-importance that won’t allow them to let their staff control the business long enough to allow the leader to engage in important think-time.

When tough times hit, or when economic challenges require us to do more with fewer people, leaders can sometimes become so operationally involved in the business that they lose sight in how important it is to remain thoughtful about the direction of the business. Working ON the business becomes all the more important.

In my opinion, any leader that fails to spend time contemplating and planning for the parts of the operation that fall under their purview is only a manager. Not a true leader.

Working ON the business seems to get little time as compared to working IN the business.

SECOND, let’s unpack what it means to be “Working IN…”

Working IN the business can be summed up as those activities that have a direct correlation to the organization’s reason for existence and productivity. Basically, any activity that can be tracked and monitored in any way would be included here; hiring and firing, ordering product, selling, delivering, administering and managing directly, etc. These tasks generally have specific descriptions and require some level of training so the task can be repeated over and over. The tasks are functional and utilitarian in nature.

While working ON the business has great value, being able to implement the plan effectively and successfully with staffs as they work IN the business is also critical.

Any good leader can create the best strategies for their business but the concepts remain as just “good ideas” if they are not implemented in a way that brings them from concept to reality. It’s at these times that the leader rolls up his/her sleeves and injects themselves (and their ideas) into the operation. They model the behaviors and activities that they envisioned and developed while working ON the business.

Last thought…

The best leaders continually migrate between working ON and IN their business. They understand when it’s time to break away and develop new ideas and strategies and they also know when it’s time to come back and get involved as they bring those ideas to the teams they lead.

Whether in board meetings or ad-hoc management discussions it’s easy to spot those leaders who have spent time working ON the business as well as IN the business. Their thoughts and considerations are clear. They have a realistic view of what needs to be done. They have ideas rather than excuses. I love working with these people. Don’t you?


  • Have you scheduled time to work ON your business? If not, why not?

Steve Shrout – used by permission.