3 Box Thinking: Do you focus on the making the present happen or creating the future?



3 Box thinking is a helpful framework created by Vijay Govindarajan that is a useful tool for teams and organizations in identifying their focuses and alignment of resources. Most organizations focus on box 1.  The challenge is not to shift the focus from box 1 to boxes 2-3, but to focus on all 3 boxes and make sure you are aligning your team/organization to execute extraordinarily well in the present while also reaching into the future.


Reflection Questions|

  • As an individual, what box do you enjoy focusing on the most?  The present, or the future?
  • As a team, is there one box that is more neglected and needs focused attention?
  • What are the dangers of being completely present focused and also of being completely future focused?
  • What are the qualities of leaders, teams and organizations that thrive in each box?

Why Conflict is Always Good

Everyone responds differently to conflict, but must of us can grow in this area.  I am a “Conflict-Avoider,” unless I am intentional about changing my default posture.  Some of us are the opposite, we are “Conflict-Elevators.”  We look for conflict and move too quickly to it, many times elevating the conflict out of per-portion.  On this scale you might find yourself identified somewhere else, because there are many options for how we respond.  Normally, whatever our default position is, we would benefit from moving closer to the center.  One of the keys that helped me stop being an avoider and start moving towards a healthier perspective, was realizing that conflict is actually a good thing.  In fact, I believe conflict is ALWAYS a good thing.

Why Conflict is ALWAYS GOOD

1. Reality is always better than pretend

Sometimes they way people handle conflict isn’t good, but the new knowledge you have of how someone feels is good.  It is easier for some of us not to face the issues that exist in our family and work relationships or teams, but ignoring conflict limits the health of the environment those relationships exist in.  When we ignore conflict in our homes it may look healthier, but its not.  The same is true for work and friendships.  Reality is better for the person who is frustrated when the verbalize what they are feeling internally and for the person who supposedly blew it.  Regardless of if a person is right or wrong when it comes to the issue, I would always rather know there is a damaged relationship, a frustration on my team, or words I said that someone felt hurt by.  Reality is always our friend.

2. Conflict can lead to a better solution

Sometimes conflict enables us to see that someone’s perspective is better, or to see an alternative solution.  I am not an advocate of someone simply playing devils advocate all the time.  But when there are alternative viewpoints, the friction in the discussion normally causes everyone to think more broadly and to search for greater clarity.  Be open and don’t just dig in when conflict starts, and you may find your marriage, family or team better for it.

3. Conflict keeps a team from being stagnant 

Teams without conflict will likely fail eventually.  If everyone always thinks the same, eventually that may be a sign of a fear environment, lack of trust or lack of engagement. No doubt there are moments where people feel aligned and the issue is clear that organization needs to overcome or the family needs to address at home, but many times it won’t be.  Conflict makes the team better and makes the marriage better by causing us to listen and to understand a different perspective which will widen the lens through which we see the world.  When stop listening for to opposing viewpoints, we will likely stop growing.  Doesn’t mean we will end up agreeing, but opposing viewpoints strengthen us and round us out if we let them.

4. Conflict reveals who needs to transition

This one doesn’t apply to the home, but it does to a work team.  In an organization where there is a specific culture with specific values, conflict can sometimes reveal who might be a wrong fit for the organization.  I don’t say this lightly and I don’t mean in any sense that an employee who has conflict with the organization should be let go.  But if an employee repeatedly and continually always has issues with the core values of the organization, the employee needs to change their internal values, the organization needs to change its internal values or the employee needs to find a better fit.  For some people, staying in the wrong fit not only results in unresolvable conflict, but it also keeps them from the fulness of their potential.  This one needs further nuancing, but there is definitely truth to it.

5. Conflict is emotionally healthy

Emotionally healthy people don’t stuff emotions and they don’t burst out at people around them.  They are able to calmly verbalize their differing viewpoint or hurt.  They recognize the urge to get elevated in their emotions when they feel hurt in a meeting or concerned about the future of an organization, but they are able to express their perspective or feelings without using it as a club.  All of us could further grow in emotional health.  The more we are emotionally healthy, the more we will engage in healthy conflict and live with a greater sense of peace in relationships and environments.

6. Conflict always reveals something

Here is my bottom line argument.  Conflict is ALWAYS good because it reveals something to us about ourselves, others or our home/organization.  Even when it is hard to hear, even when we disagree, even when it is going cause some awkward follow-up conversations, it is good.  Because what is happening inside of us and others exists whether it comes to the surface or not.  Differing perspectives can help us re-frame our understanding of situations and help us be better relationally with one another as we listen more.

What I am not saying

1. The causes of conflict are always good

Sometimes the outcome of conflict is good, but perhaps it started by someone being defensive or someone seeking to promote their agenda.  We can address the manner someone handles conflict if they burst out in a meeting, but the fact that we see what is really going on inside of them is good thing.

2. People who perpetually cause unnecessary conflict should remain on your team

Some people cause conflict because they are emotionally unhealthy.  It is a good thing for this to come out on your team so you can seek to encourage them towards emotional health.  But that doesn’t mean they should stay in your organization if they refuse to mature emotionally and get help.  Sometimes letting them go will be the catalyst that causes them to seek the resources they need to grow if you have tried to walk beside them but they continually refuse the help.  Give everything you can to help your team, but in the end you may have to let someone go who is destroying your organizational culture.

Questions for reflection|

1. Do I run to or away from conflict?

2. How could I handle conflict with greater maturity?

3. Do I handle conflict the same way at home and work?

4. Why do I deal with conflict the way that I do?

5. Do I see conflict as good or bad fundamentally?

What to Do When You Meet a Diaper that TESTS your COURAGE?


It happens to every young dad.  It happened to me twice today.  You bring your child in to get their diaper changed expecting it to be just like every other time, and then the panic hits.  This isn’t every other time.

To make matters worse you are likely out of wipes, diapers or…worst case scenario, your child starts trying to flip, kick or squat down after you already have begun to carefully peel that diaper off.

You want to call for back-up, but your spouse isn’t home.  Your heart races, your stomach turns.  You must think fast, but what do you do?

5 Dad Emergency steps when you are hitting the diaper panic button

1. Control your Breath|  Its not as a bad as it seems.  Everything is washable, including your hands.

2. Sing a song| What will get your child’s attention so they won’t move.  Just make sure it isn’t a song with motions…

3. Use whatever you have around|  You are the MacGyver of that space.  You are the Chuck Norris of that moment.  Seize it and own it.  You can always wash that other outfit.  Put it under your child to minimize other stuff getting on the changing table.  Its easier to wash another outfit than the whole changing table.

4. Keep your eyes or hand on your child at all times|  You will be tempted to run. Don’t.  You’re the leaders, the hero, the rescuer in this moment.  Your child is counting on you to show courage in the face of demise.  Be careful when you are looking around the room for a towel or something else to grab.  Don’t walk away thinking it will just be a minute and your child roll off the bed.

5. The best offense is a good defense| Check your rations daily to make sure you are stocked on diapers, wet wipes, towels…etc.  Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, and don’t come unprepared to the baby changing table.

6. Pull the emergency hatch| If all else fails put them in the bathtub to stabilize the situation.  That’s kinda gross, but you can pour some comet on it later.

I know the thought went through your mind, but you’re better than that young dad.  Don’t wrap that diaper back up and wait for their mommy to come home and act surprised.  You can do this.  You’re a man of valor.

How to Be Successful as a New Dad|Adapt

I am a father of two little boys and I love it.  Joel is two and a half and Jedd is nine months.  As much as I thought I was prepared for fatherhood, it is a steep learning curve.  This series of posts unpacks my advice to myself if I could go back and write a note to myself before we had our first son.  It captures the important concepts that have helped me grow as a new dad.


If could reset anything in my mind before we had our first son it would be this; ADAPT.  It is hard to prepare mentally for the different reality that a new child brings. So much joy, tiredness, laughter and uncertainty, all bundled together.  Think of a snow globe being shook up.  That is my experience as a new dad.  It was unsettling.  I lost my rhythm of life and struggled to adapt my habits, the structure of my dad and my relationship with my wife to the new experience of being a dad to a little boy.  Having a child will change your sleep habits, your eating habits and structure of your day.  Being prepared to shift the way your day looks is essential if you are going to maximize the transition you are in.  You cannot rule out, structure out, completely push out the chaos that comes with a new addition to the family, but you can pursue some attitudes and actions that will help you adjust better.

1. Identify your priorities, and adapt your day around them. 

The more you live proactively with a new child, the easier the transition.  You don’t identify what is most important and then proactively plan around those things, you will likely live in reverse.

2. Adjust your speed

The first few weeks may feel like a dead sprint, but it won’t last forever.  Endure as best you can. Everyone survives it.

3. Plan on adapting your schedule

You may have to wake up earlier, wake up later, work out in the morning or at night.  I really struggled to adjust my schedule and I think it made the transition tougher.  I kept operating for awhile like I did before we had kids and that caused greater friction and frustration in myself and our home.

4. Adjust your commitments

Be careful about taking on big, new commitments until you see how you adjust.  Everyone is different. Every COUPLE is different.  It is not just a matter of how you adjust, it is also about how your spouse adjusts.  Paying attention to how you and your spouse are adjusting will lower the tension in your home during this new season.  Make commitments based on both of your adjustment levels and not simply your own.

5. Adjust your communication

Be prepare to possibly adjust your communication as a couple. Will you have to move your date time to morning or to evening depending on the baby sitters?  Will you be disciplined to make time for just the two of you?  As you might experience personal tiredness amongst the joy of a new child, it will be easier to put both your focuses on the child as a couple and start to see your communication with each other diminish.  Make sure you keep feeding that relationship, because your relationship with your spouse always forms the foundation for the health of the home.  The area of communication may already be an issue, or you may be thriving in it during the first year, but the main thing is to pay attention and be ready to shift how and when you communicate/connect if necessary.


Reflection Questions|

1. What are you looking forward to the most about becoming a dad?

2. Which of the five focus areas above do you think will be hardest for you to adapt?

3. What does it look like to have an adaptive attitude in the first two years of father-hood?

4. Why is it important to have an adaptive attitude to thrive?

5. What is the difference between a reactive and proactive attitude when it comes to adapting your preferences, schedule and commitments?

How to Be Successful as a New Dad| The first two years


As a new dad with one son who is two and half and one son who is nine months, here is my advice to myself if I could go back and write a note of guidance to thrive as a new dad.  Look for follow up posts that will expand and explore each of these actions that fuel health in the blender of new father-hood during those first two years.  Every dad is different, so these may or may not be relevant to you, but it is always helpful to think about yourself and your relationships to make sure you’re pursuing the path you want.

10 Actions and Attitudes that Will Help You Succeed as a New Dad

1. Adapt

2. Think about your spouse

3. Pursue your spouse

4. Be ready to change your life rhythm

5. Take Care of Yourself

6. Ask others for advice who have kids

7. Mentally prepare for a challenge

8. Learn constantly

9. Practice Patience

10. Enjoy life in the chaos

At the end of the day as a follower of Jesus, the most important thing to thrive is to keep cultivating your own heart and “followership” of Jesus.  Nothing can replace that.

Reflection Questions|

1. What excites you the most about becoming a dad?

2. Of those attitudes and actions listed above, which ones do you think you need to really focus in on to thrive?

3. Why is it so important to be intentional about your attitudes and actions as a dad?

4. What are 4-5 words or phrases you want to describe your home in 4-5 years?  Plan for tomorrow with your attitude and actions today!