Jim has spent over 16 years in IT and currently lives in North Texas. He writes about technology and leadership at JimWalton.org and GeekBeat.tv.
Whatever is next
I have always had a heart for leading volunteers, which is not always easy. It is a challenging gig but it can be rewarding. Whenever I am around church leaders, it blows me away how common it is to hear someone say “What are we supposed to do with volunteers?”. Apparently, leading volunteers does not come naturally to everyone, but there is hope.
I think the root cause of this breakdown is a failure to see the value of volunteers and a failure to trust.
The first breakdown is a failure to see a value in volunteers. It’s easy to think you can do it all yourself and it’s even easier to think you can do it better than anyone else. Better is very subjective. The way you do something is not necessarily the best way it can be done, it’s merely the best way to do it in your view. There are so many willing and able people in your church and you, as a leader, need to reach out and get to know them. As you get to know them, you will see their interests, skills, talents, abilities and their heart. Be aware and you will begin to see how these willing people can fit into the various roles on your team.
By this point, the rubber hits the road. This is where it gets real, actually allowing a volunteer, or volunteers, to serve. This is where trust comes walking in. You have to relinquish control of whatever it is to allow someone else carry the load for you. By now, you should have already gotten to know this volunteer and have a pretty good comfort level with their abilities, heart and motivation. Let go and trust them to follow through. You can do this!
Without a doubt, they will do things differently than you do and that’s ok because they are not you. Doing something different than you is not wrong, it’s simply different.
So, get to know people and look for ways that they can step up and help. So often, they want to do more and they are waiting on you to give them an opportunity. Also, trust that they will do the job well and accept the fact that the end result is what matters, not making an exact clone of you.
A final note, nobody is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. Even you! Allow for that. Perfection is not the goal. Getting YOUR job done and even more with the help of volunteers, that is the goal!
I have always had a heart for leading volunteers, which is not always easy. It is a challenging gig but it can be rewarding. Whenever I am around church leaders, it blows me away how common it is to hear someone say something to the effect of not knowing what to do with volunteers.
It’s a common thing and apparently, it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Since I started volunteering for my church, I have had so many different roles, both under someone’s leadership and being the leader. I have not had the opportunity to be on church staff but I can imagine it might give a different perspective on volunteers. In all honesty, the church can do so much more by empowering volunteers and drawing on their passion, knowledge and skills.
I want to bring some focus to leading volunteers, whether it’s within a church or otherwise and I will be republishing a few posts that I wrote at Church Tech Matters on this topic.
In the meantime, do you know what to do with volunteers?
Share your thoughts!
This morning, I set out to build a file server for files, photos and music that our family could share. As I looked into various options, I found quite a bit of info on setting up a media server. This would be a way to stream any number of channels and potentially replace cable TV. I tested a few different options and ended up settling on Boxee. There’s a pretty good chance you haven’t heard of Boxee or maybe you have but you really have no idea what it is.
Boxee TV is their main product and it’s a device you can buy for about $100. I think it’s well worth the money. It will stream Netflix, YouTube, LifeChurch.tv, MLB.tv, most major networks and so much more and there’s potential to eliminate cable TV. A similar device, Roku, is more mainstream, therefore that’s the device I typically recommend, but it seems either device is a worthy choice.
Instead of simply buying a device, I liked the idea of making something work on my own. Before there was Boxee TV, Boxee was available for download, but now, of course, they want you to buy Boxee TV, so the download is not so readily available. With some searching, I was able to find a good download.
Once you download the setup file, the install is fairly straightforward, so if this intrigues you, give it a shot. You can watch all of the Boxee apps, i.e. channels, on any TV that a PC connected to and honestly, that may be your biggest technical challenge in all of this.
In truth, both Boxee TV and Roku will allow you to stream virtually the same things, both devices cost about $100 and both are easy to setup. However, if you have a PC available and a little time to install and setup the Boxee software, that will cost $0.
Go here for your download and give it a shot. There is so much more there than I could ever describe. You really have to see it for yourself.
One thing I know is that my best writing comes out of what I know. I have been writing for years and I have tried many things, some things work, some things work well and some things fail big time. The thing that works for me is to write what I know.
Right now, my focus is preparing for certification exams. I have spent a good part of this week reading, studying and watching YouTube tutorial videos. For the past 24 hours, literally, I have been focusing on GPO. Group Policy Object has the potential to touch every aspect of your computer experience and you probably will never know it. This is something that has great flexibility and with great flexibility comes tremendous power.
GPO can affect:
It is something I have known but not as in depth as I am learning right now. There is more I am brushing up on but I just wanted to put this out here.
If you are a server admin, what are some unique ways you are using GPO?
Happiness is not everything but it is a choice.
Contentment is not everything but it is a choice.
Sometimes you have to get over yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in what you don’t have or who you don’t have or where you don’t live. Take a breath, sit back and relax.
If you feel like you are in a situation such as this, here are some questions you can ask yourself:
If the answer is not nothing, then ask:
Start easy, maybe that’s enough. Go for the win. Any change in the right direction is worthy.
When you are ready, the next question might be:
Once you have an answer to this question and a known direction is established, ask:
Don’t abandon anything that you might regret later.
It’s not always easy to pick up and move, but if where you live is wearing you down, come up with a plan to make a change. Maybe it will take a week or a month or a year or 5 years. Don’t sweat it, just take a step to start doing something about it.
In a similar way, it’s not always easy to change jobs, but if where you work is wearing you down, come up with a plan and make a change. Maybe it will take a week or a month or a year or 5 years. Don’t sweat it, just take a step to start doing something about it.
Are you seeing a pattern here? The point is if you are not happy with where you are in some aspect of your life, come up with a plan and do something about it. No one else is going to do it for you.
I’m learning to appreciate what I have and where I’m at in life. I’ve got a good family, nice home, good job and so many things to take for granted, although that is probably another lesson. So many people are content and happy with so much less, it’s probably insulting when I feel like I have much of anything to complain about.
Maybe contentment carries more weight than happiness but choosing happiness might make the contentment come a little easier.
What are your thoughts?
In my last post, I shared a little bit about what I’m doing to get things done and become a little more organized. Now I’ll share some specifics on what I am doing.
The plan that I am now using is called The Secret Weapon and it takes the concepts of David Allen’s Getting Things Done and merges them with Evernote. If you currently use Evernote, then this will be fairly simple to implement but even if you do not, this plan will walk you through setting everything up. From The Secret Weapon Manifesto:
The Secret Weapon is a merging of the GTD concept with a powerful program/service from Evernote, (EN for short) that allows us to re-organize our emails, ideas, and to-do items into one system that stays synchronized across our varied devices, and has the ability to help us capture ideas when we suddenly come up with them.
A primary goal that I had going into this is to have a system that is compatible across the variety of devices that I use and TSW does exactly that. Also, considering that I am already deeply embedded into Evernote, this seemed worth pursuing.
The main questions that are associated with most everything that you and I do are:
What – What are you doing?
When – When are you going to do it?
Where – Where are you going to do it at?
Who – Who are you doing it with?
These 4 questions become tags in Evernote and within these 4 tags, you will create more specific tags. Under the Who tag, you might have Mary, Joe, Tony and others. Under the What tag, you may want Work, Home etc. TSW will teach you how to isolate the specific context you need to see at the right time.
That’s all good and well, but the real power, in my mind, is saved searches. A saved search is whatever you want it to be, meaning a certain combination of contexts. Of course, you are free to customize this system specific to your needs and preferences. For example, I have a lot of things that I clip from the web that are tagged ToRead along with other tags adding specificity to that particular note. When I have some down time, both on my computer and on my phone, I can find something relevant to read.
For the record, I still have a default Inbox in Evernote that I can drop things into if I need to capture something but don’t necessarily want to take the time to categorize it yet. That notebook usually stays below 10 or 20 notes and is easy to manage and sort through regularly.
I am still fine tuning my TSW system but I am seeing great improvement in keeping track of things both personally and professionally.
How do you make GTD work for you?
Getting Things Done, or GTD as people in the know call it, is a really good thing. It’s all about creating a system to free up your brain from keeping track of all of the stuff that you have going on. This stuff could be big things such as building a deck down to little things like picking up dog food on the way home.
Those that know me well might agree that I am a fairly organized person, although on the surface, that may not always be apparent. My problem is I never have really had a good system for keeping my life organized. I have tried different methods countless times with little success.
GTD is a great concept and I have nothing bad to say about it but, by design, you are not given the tools to get GTD done, you are only given the concepts. It is up to you to determine the best tools. In it’s simplest form, GTD is a checklist but in reality, it is so much more. So, I have looked at a variety of to do lists but nothing has stuck. I have a couple of friends that are deeper into this than I am and I have gotten some very good coaching on this topic but it has still been left up to me to find MY tools.
For me, it needs to be something that is available on the computer and on my Android phone and it needs to be constantly sync’d up. Not everything meets these requirements. One thing that does is Evernote. Those that know me know that I live in Evernote and depend on it for many aspects of my life, both work and personal. Evernote also meets my basic requirements of being available on my phone and my computer. Awhile back, I attempted to turn Evernote into my GTD machine and it didn’t stick. I moved on.
My search has continued. Honestly, much of my free time has been focused on this task and I think I finally found what I have been looking for. I will share more details in my next post but as a tease, I will say that it does involve Evernote and I think this plan will stick.
The 46th annual Country Music Awards will be on tv November 1st and the nominations were released today. To make it easy and erase any doubt, I have gone through and chosen the obvious winner in each category, although for some there is no obvious winner. Someone at work the other day said they were surprised I was a country music fan but honestly, I was raised on country music and have been a fan for a long time. My preference falls more to the rock country style over true country but it’s really all good.
This past year and really, the past two years has been solid for country music, in my opinion. A lot of newcomers have arrived on the scene, such as Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean and many others and they have established themselves solidly in the forefront of the country music arena. For the last 6 months or more, Eric Church has been one of my favorites and he is proving his worth in this elite crowd with 5 nominations.
The nominations are below and my chosen one in each category is highlighted in bold, some with commentary.
Entertainer Of The Year:
Brad Paisley - I’m a little biased toward Paisley and his mad guitar skillz, very entertaining to watch him effortlessly play.
Female Vocalist of the year:
Miranda Lambert – Without a doubt, my favorite
Male Vocalist of the year:
Luke Bryan – Respectable group, all are worthy, but I’m unashamedly biased
New Artist of the year:
Brantley Gilbert – Talented young songwriter and artist
Love and Theft
Vocal Group of the year:
Lady Antebellum – Extremely talented, probably equally worthy
Little Big Town – Big hit now but have done nothing in over 2 years
Eli Young Band – Tough choice but EYB keeps getting better
The Band Perry – No chance // booooo
Zac Brown Band – Extremely talented, probably equally worthy
Vocal Duo of the year:
Love and Theft
Big & Rich – Without a doubt, I loved Lonestar back in the day and I love B&R
The Civil Wars
Single of the year:
Dirt Road Anthem – Jason Aldean
God Gave Me You – Blake Shelton
Springsteen – Eric Church – All of these are worthy but Church is my favorite
Pontoon – Little Big Town
Home – Dierks Bentley
Album of the year:
Chief – Eric Church
Four the Record – Miranda Lambert
Home – Dierks Bentley
Own the Night – Lady Antebellum
Tailgates & Tanlines – Luke Bryan – Again, all of these are worthy but my bias wins
Song of the year:
Even If It Breaks Your Heart: Will Hoge & Eric Paslay
God Gave Me You – Dave Barnes
Home – Dierks Bentley, Brett Beavers & Dan Wilson
Over You: Blake Shelton & Miranda Lambert
Springsteen: Eric Church, Ryan Tyndell & Jeff Hyde – No contest
Musical Event of the year:
Dixie Highway – Alan Jackson featuring Zac Brown
Feel Like A Rock Star – Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw
Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die – Willie Nelson with Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson & Jamey Johnson
Safe & Sound – Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars
Stuck On You – Lionel Richie (with Darius Rucker)
Music Video of the year:
Come Over – Kenny Chesney
Over You – Miranda Lambert
Pontoon – Little Big Town
Red Solo Cup – Toby Keith – Easily the funnest song of the year ”Let’s have a party…..”
Springsteen – Eric Church
Musician of the year:
Brent Mason – Guitar
Sam Bush – Mandolin
Paul Franklin – Steel Guitar
Dann Huff – Guitar
Mac McAnally – Guitar
Little or no mention of the following artists is disappointing in a way. In my book, they at least get something.
Maybe next year.
What are your choices? How do they differ and why?
Today is the day that I received my Samsung Galaxy S III mobile device. I have changed phones enough to know that I never truly know the apps that I have and even the ones that I rely on. So, as I started anticipating this upgrade that culminated itself today, I decided to make an all inclusive list of apps that I have installed. I even took it one step farther and categorized the apps as critical and non critical.
I knew there were apps that I needed to be fully functional on day 1, so those were moved up to the critical list. All the rest were necessary for some reason at some point but I will now begin the process of determining if they are necessary. Quite a few of the non-critical apps are necessary, just not necessary on day 1.
Alarm Clock Xtreme
Amazon app store
App to SD Pro
Bar code scanner
ES File Explorer
Latitude – Installed by default
TuneIn Radio Pro
Wunderground PWS – added to old phone 2 days ago, still in testing but it looks promising, more lightweight than Elecont Weather, it seems.
* – Not installed yet because I want to test the new device’s native functionality
Less than critical
ABBYY BCR Lite
AirPush Detector – For removing push notifications
Cargly Fill Up
Chrome to Phone
FlexT9 Text Input
Kelley Blue Book
My Coffee Card Pro
My Daily Free
QR Code Generator
Sound Sleep (MT)
Weather bug elite
What apps are critical to you?
I have been anticipating this day for several months and I really can’t believe it’s finally here. I have had time to weigh my options and survey the landscape and in the end, I have concluded that the Samsung Galaxy S III is to be my next mobile device.
It’s just a phone, who cares? It is a phone but the reality is that it is so much more. A 4G texting, emailing, reading, browsing, movie watching, tv-show watching, interactive device that does all of that and more.
I stay fully connected to work and to my personal life in the most convenient way possible. For the past 2 years, I have had the HTC Incredible, which morphed into the HTC Incredible 2, due to the timing of an insurance swap. I have loved this phone and I have watched Android OS evolve into a more mature platform
On my current device, I am running Android 2.3.4, which is also known as Gingerbread. The new one will have Android 4.0.4, which is also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. It will be interesting to see what new features this latest version of Android has, especially considering I am completely skipping Honeycomb, Android 3.x.
If you’re not bored or confused at this point, then I have done my job. Let me know if you would like to read a review of my new, white Samsung Galaxy S III after I use it for a couple of weeks.jimwalton