Book review – The Faith of Barack Obama

August 19th, 2008 by Gallagher John 3 Comments

Those of you who know me well know that I like to read books on leadership. I was given the opportunity to receive a copy of Stephen Mansfield’s book, The Faith of Barack Obama. The timing of reading this book coincided well with the recent Saddleback Civil Forum where our two presidential candidates were questioned by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. (On a side note, I thought that it was the best format ever for a presidential ‘debate’ of sorts. Both candidates did well. )

In Stephen Mansfield’s book, I find that he does a nice job of detailing the story of Barack Obama’s faith from his birth to today. As a man of faith myself, I found the book to be an easy read. The author states right up front that he is not a Barack Obama supporter, but the book is fair in it’s presentation. In the first few chapters, Senator Obama’s faith history growing up is described and later in the book, the author does a nice job of drawing comparisons to other Presidents and presidential candidates including Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and George W. Bush.

What I really appreciate about the book is that it provides us with the information needed to make a choice about Senator Obama’s faith journey. For example, the author invests a lot of the book on the relationship of Obama and his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. It asks the right questions: “Why did Obama Stay at Trinity United Church of Christ, not just for some twenty years, but even after his pastor’s radical views became public?”

Anyone unsure of the positions of Senator Obama on faith-based initiatives, as well as the life he lived growing up should read this book prior to making their choice for the next President of the United States.

This book did not change my view on who my choice for next President for me. It did; however, answer some questions for me, while generating a few new ones as well.

I want to thank Thomas Nelson publishing for the opportunity to read this book. If you get a chance, take a look at Michael Hyatt’s blog. He is the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Setting Expectations…for kids!

August 15th, 2008 by Gallagher John No Comments

My two sons, Brendan (11) and Joseph(9) are blessings to me. I enjoy watching them grow and they are growing up too fast!

I have to admit that teaching them the value of managing their resources(time, especially!) has been a challenge for me. One of the tools I have used in my personal life is called the ‘Time Block’ where I outline where I need to invest my ‘time’ and then ‘block’ it out on my weekly calendar. I use Outlook for this. Each block of time is broken into 30-minute intervals on a daily basis and I try to plan my ‘perfect’ week. It includes activities for the key areas of my life: 1) Faith, 2) Those closest to me – Chris & the boys, 3) Family & Friends, 4) Self (physical & personal development), and 5) Finances.

My kids needed something similar, but nothing I tried seemed to work. They had their goals & they were simple – allowance & time to do things THEY wanted to do. To achieve the goals, there were certain basic expectations we had as parents, but at the end of each week, the lines were blurred. So, I set about to set up a ‘visual control’ for the kids as well. If a time block worked for me, why wouldn’t it work for the kids? In fact, how better to get them to manage their priorities in life, but to get them to block their time at a young age?

I needed the time block to be simple and colorful to keep their interest, and visual for me to check up on their expectations and 3M graciously obliged by introducing a post-it weekly planner. Those who know me well know that sticky notes are a necessity of mylife! In fact, my brother-in-law saw this at my house and said “Staples saw you coming when they brought this out!”

I set the example and outlined my week on the post-it calendar and used it to model for the kids development of their own. The process was fun and painful at the same time. The kids enjoyed the cutting & pasting, but didn’t really like that they had to write down when they needed to do it. They also wanted to create ‘shortcuts’ – “Dad, can’t I just write this down on Monday and they write ‘every day’ on one sticky, instead of making 5?” Nope…Every day. Below is the outcome of the exercise…

Purple = family time

Green = Basic expectations (make bed, put away clothes)

Orange = Projects – These items are allowance earners(clean garage, vacuum basement, READ BOOKS)!!

We posted these in the garage right by the entry door to the house. Now, I am not naive enough to think that everything will not be perfect and the kids will NOW do things without being asked. Even I don’t hit my time block 100% and I have been doing it for years! However, in the first two weeks, the boys are much more aware of their responsibilities.

So, tell me, what tools do you use to manage your priorities? What about your children – how do or did you set their expectations?

I love Sunday Mornings!

August 10th, 2008 by Gallagher John 2 Comments

Sunday morning for me is very relaxing. I set an alarm to get up so that I can enjoy ‘my time’ for a couple hours. As I reflect on what I do, it still is a practice of continuous improvement…of managing my priorities…

‘Standard Work’ for Sunday Morning

1) 6:18 get up after hitting the snooze twice because there is just no reason someone should get up at 6:00 on Sunday if they don’t ‘have to’…

2) Put on a pot of coffee

3) Walk out to get the paper – What a beautiful day it is today! About 60 degrees & sunny.

4) ‘Organize’ the paper for reading – Pull out all the junk ads and put them aside. Does Dick’s Sporting Goods really EVER have a sale, or are they just trying to fool everyone with this ad?

a. Homes section first (need to review my ad for accuracy & other realtor ads for ideas!)

b. Main reading section – Sports first, of course!

c. ‘Extra’ section last as it has the Sudoku puzzle…Even after the comics (yes, I still read the

comics! Lots of good stuff in the Dilbert strip)

d. Then the ads – Target (pronounced tar-jhay here in the South!), and of course, the Staples ad. Free Glue today!! Showing my age here as I have evolved from Best Buy to Dick’s to Sears to now Staples as my favorite ad!!

e. Skim Parade magazine – Of course, the best issue is the how much people make issue. Also, found a new number puzzle in the Ask Marilyn section that is pretty cool called Numbrix.

f. Tear out Sudoku puzzle and mess up the Extra session for Chris (she is still sleeping peacefully, though. She’ll never know. I digress. I love to watch her sleep. She is at peace…More on that in the future…)

g. Hopefully, I finish just in time to watch Ed Young Television.

h. 8:30 now. Time to get ready for church…Day gets hectic from here as it really isn’t enough time to get ready. But, I love those first 2.5 hours…My Time…Church, lunch with the family, Open House, and today…Leave for the beach for a few days. Sneak in a couple more days before the kids go back to school..

OK. my Sunday morning has just been thrown for a spin. Instead of Ed Young being on, it is replaced with the Olympics. Phelps going for 8 golds..1 down and 7 to go…Have you all read how much he will actually swim in the next 10 days or so? What a machine!

Tell me about how YOU spend YOUR Sunday mornings.

Have a great week


Church Soup

August 4th, 2008 by Gallagher John No Comments

So, I get up this morning and I am looking at different churches on line. Trying to find a church to visit with some contemporary flair. We decide to go to our home church…Covenant Presbyterian in Roanoke. Today is Youth Sunday and they did a fabulous job. They playeda clip audibly in church today that they had heard it at their youth trip in the last week. I am so glad we decided to go to church today at Covenant. The youth did a great job and this ‘Church Soup’ spoke to me!!!

Click on the link to listen in. It is humorous and very poignant as well. Don’t worry about where you go to church…just love each other!!

Church Soup

Have a great week y’all. Don’t let opportunities pass you by this week to add value to someone’s life!

Lessons of the Square Watermelon

August 2nd, 2008 by Gallagher John 1 Comment
A friend recently shared an article with me about the paradigms we have and the infamous quote “If you think you can, or you think you can’t,…you’re probably right!”
Toyota Production System at work! If you haven

Refrigerator Rights!!

July 22nd, 2008 by Gallagher John No Comments

A true test of a relationship:

Who comes to your house, invited or not, and has “refrigerator rights”? The best relationships are those where you are comfortable enough when you go to a friend’s house and open the refrigerator door to help yourself! I want relationships with refrigerator rights. Welcome to my house. Help yourself to my refrigerator, friend!!

When you see Chris, my wife, ask her to forgive me for taking a photo of our fridge before she was allowed to clean it out!!

Simple ____________

July 18th, 2008 by Gallagher John No Comments

In my very first post, I talked about how I got the name of the blog – “Simple Leadership”. I mentioned that it was a word from each of two books that I had been reading. I also mentioned that I would share these with you.

So, fill in the blank for me on the following. Each blank has the same answer. Send me your responses and I will let you know the various responses I get. Some of you may have already read this book, so play fair!!


“It is not enough to unite the ______ around the same what (purpose), but they also must be aligned on the same how (process.”
“Leaders of the ______should outline the simple process but then allow leaders to implement with freedom and creativity.”
“Recruit and offer accountability based on your simple process. Implement in each ______ department. Unite people around the simple process.”
” A simple ______ is a group designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of growth. When people not only commit to the beliefs of a ______ but also to the simple and strategic process, the energy of everyone is unleashed.”
” Simple ______ who desire to eliminate programs will inevitably offend the past or some individual.”

I could add so many more, but you should get the flavor. So, FILL IN THE BLANK.

Hope you all are doing well.