Picture of Breakfast With Fred bookFred’s children learned early to avoid requests in “happy language.” Making an argument for money to spend on something because it made one happy was sure to lose. On the other hand, pleas for memory makers or growth experiences received a much more favorable argument. “Helpful” “productive” “effective” were strong Fred words which exemplified his lifelong desire to stretch others.

Palm Beach Atlantic University and Taylor University are both working with the Breakfast With Fred Leadership Institute to provide venues which will indeed “stretch and bless the next generation of leaders…to the glory of God.” We are thankful for their friendship. And we are thankful for your support. Please pray for God’s blessing.

Productive, Not Happy

I once wrote myself a note criticizing my compulsion to be productive. “Fred, at this age, why can’t you just be happy with who you are and forget about all that productivity stuff?” As I composed an eloquent treatise on the benefits of happiness over productivity I realized it is impossible for me (and probably any other leaders) to sacrifice productivity at the altar of happiness. It just isn’t built into our DNA. In a strange way, productivity results in happiness, but singularly focusing on happiness does not result in productivity.

The more I wrote, the clearer it became that aiming at personal happiness alone is basically selfish. I am not condemning happiness as evil, but it has a strong self-centered element to it. On the other hand, the desire to be productive is other centered. It is grounded in the desire to do something of value that contributes to the general well-being.

To me, much of the reward of leadership is the sense of productivity. Producing something through others and for others that otherwise would have not occurred without the leader’s actions is gratification of the highest order.

By the time I finished writing my summary read: “Leaders would rather be productive than happy.”

Productivity is not the same as activity. Ironically, leaders are sometimes more productive when they are not doing. Sometimes their most significant contribution is instilling vision, thinking about direction, and engendering enthusiasm. These things are often done in casual settings, not formal meetings. The influence of leadership is not limited to organizational pronouncements.

The opportunity to build into the life of an organization or an individual is one of my great joys. As a consultant to major corporations, I strategize at high levels. But I also am able to sit down one on one to do productive thinking with those who need a sounding board. Helping people think through decisions, work through problems, or outline a plan of action creates a sense of high productivity and the use of my leadership gifts.

“Fred, why can’t you just be happy and forget about productivity?” Because God gave me a gift to steward and work to do which makes me productive…that’s why.

This week think about: 1) How productive am I right now? 2) What brings me joy? 3) Who models happiness through productivity for me?

Words of Wisdom: “Leaders would rather be productive than happy.”

Wisdom from the Word: “just as I was in my most productive time, when God’s intimate friendship was experienced in my tent,”  (Job 29:4 NET Bible)


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