Daily D – Psalm 94:12
Joyful are those you discipline, LORD, those you teach with your instructions. PSALM 94:12 (NLT)
Are you familiar with lead measures and lag measures? In The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling, the authors distinguish what is intended from what is accomplished with those two terms.
Lead measures look forward and tell us what will probably happen. Lag measures look back and tell us what really happened. Lead measures say Ford Motor Company will sell a certain number of trucks in its fiscal year. Lag measures let us know if Ford met its projections, exceeded them, or came up short.
People often confuse goals and outcomes. Well-planned goals that declare what will happen when by means of what are much more accurate than wild guesses. Working with many groups in this kind of planning, it is not uncommon for overenthusiastic leaders to project wildly inflated accomplishments in short periods of time.
One church team recently declared they were going to experience over one-hundred-percent growth over three years. When asked how they would accomplish that ambitious goal (a lag measure), they struggled mightily with the lead measures necessary to get there. The unrealistic nature of their projections was settling in as our assigned session time came to an end. Sometimes it is good to leave teams a bit frustrated temporarily. This team in particular realized they needed more leaders to serve in their organization to accomplish their goal than they currently have people.
How do you know when you have bitten off more than you can chew? Here’s your sign.
The difference between lead measures and lag measures is like the difference between discipline and punishment or correction. Discipline is the instruction we receive or discover that moves us to do the right thing the right way in the right timing leading to the right results. Punishment or correction is what happens when we fail to get the right results.
A student is given a classroom assignment to learn a particular block of information. He or she has the opportunity to exercise his or her grasp of the material on multiple occasions. Then comes the examination. The lead measure, the discipline, is found in the teaching and learning exercises. The lag measure, the correction, comes when the student receives less than a perfect grade. Wise instructors help students decipher where they went wrong so that they can discipline themselves more accurately.
The songwriter of this ancient song knew the difference between discipline and punishment. He had learned to prefer discipline. He had learned that the right lead measures lead to the right lag measures. Want to earn more money? Solve a common problem wisely and well. Anyone can find problems. Income is attached to solutions.
Once upon a time, I had a cell phone larger than my iPhone. I also had a PDA which as about three times the size of my iPhone. I carried both with me to staff meetings, on trips, and anywhere I went on business. They were a lot to juggle. I thought to myself, “If only one device could do all of this stuff . . .” I saw the problem. Steve Jobs saw the solution. After a forty-seven-minute presentation about his new gadget, he asked a simple question: “Want one?” Apparently, a lot of people did. My iPhone X Max fits in my pocket and does everything those two devices did multiplied by thousands.
The difference between truly successful outcomes and occasional good outcomes is not luck, it is discipline. Get all the discipline you can. It sets you apart. It is the ultimate lead measure. It leads to consistently excellent lag measures.
I will gain discipline through wise instruction.
Our Father, teach me, train me, develop me. Grow me. Stretch me. Empower me to embrace the right lead measures which lead to the right lag measures. Give me success that honors you and serves others. Amen.
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