10 Digital Commandments

Yesterday I posted the Digital Dictionary I compiled after reading Erik Qualman’s Digital Leader. Today I want to give you the ten most important digital commandments that I took away from the book. (The brackets give the Kindle page location). Erik blogs at Socialnomics.

1. Thou shalt repeat every day: “Nothing is confidential.”
Digital footprints are the information we post about ourselves online, while digital shadows are what others upload about us. Collectively, these two items have changed the world forever, and as current or aspiring leaders it is necessary to adapt to this new reality….With the advent of radical and accessible technology, each one of us, for the first time in history, is creating an influential mark forever—we are all mini-digital celebrities and heroes to someone. The fact that what we do today will be recorded for eternity is new to most of us and it can be downright overwhelming (95-101).

Rather than becoming an expert on privacy policies, the best approach is to assume that everything you do digitally will be found out by the person you least want to find out. Taking that one step further, everything that you do offline will be digitally discoverable as well (880-881).

2. Thou shalt not multitask
A study at The British Institute of Psychiatry showed that checking your email while performing another creative task decreases your IQ in the moment by 10 points. This decrease is the equivalent of the effects from not sleeping for 36 hours—and exhibits more than twice the impact of smoking marijuana. In a study of 1,000 of its employees, Basex, an information-technology research firm, found striking data showcasing inefficiency. It was determined that 2.1 hours per day is lost to interruptions. This figure indicates over 26 percent of the average workday is wasted due to multitasking and unwanted interruptions. Jordan Grafman, chief of the cognitive neuroscience section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, explains, “There’s substantial literature on how the brain handles multitasking. And basically, it doesn’t …what’s really going on is a rapid toggling among tasks rather than simultaneous processing”  (250-257).

Multitasking is junk food for the brain (2582). [My favorite quote in the book!]

3. Thou shalt be optimistic
Offline complaints will permeate your digital communication, opening a doorway to a seemingly infinite audience. To be a leader in the changing modern world, it is imperative to break this habit (635-636).

Aross all conversations there is a ratio of 1 to 6 in terms  of encouragement to criticism. So for every one “good job” there are six “why can’t you be more like your brother?” “he doesn’t listen,” “when you do that it gets on my nerves,” “you never,” “they don’t get it,” or “you can’t” type statements. For the next week pay close attention to who in your life is constantly harping. As a baseline, the average person complains 15-30 times per day (639-644).

The best way to improve other people’s lives around you is to ensure that you are happy—your positivity will influence others.  (662-663).

We don’t want a trail littered with complaints and negative comments…If you habitually complain you will either a) have your followers leave you since people like to follow individuals that inspire hope, or b) have a legion of chronic complainers. Neither of these resulting scenarios will benefit you and you will cease being an effective digital leader  (672-677).

4. Thou shalt distinguish between reputation and integrity
Integrity is what you do when no one is watching; it’s doing the right thing all the time, even when it may work to your disadvantage. Integrity is keeping your word. Integrity is that internal compass and rudder that directs you to where you know you should go when everything around you is pulling you in a different direction. Some people think reputation is the same thing as  integrity, but they are different. Your reputation is the public perception of your integrity. Because it’s other people’s opinions of you, it may or may not be accurate. Others determine your reputation, but only you determine your integrity (Tony Dungy, 853-857).

Integrity does not come in degrees—low, medium, or high. You either have integrity or you do not”  (Tony Dungy, 869-870).

The best way to handle this new digital age in regards to your reputation is to maintain your integrity and treat everyone you engage both online and offline as if he is the last person you might ever to speak to. People will, in return, influence your leadership capabilities and legacy  (1074-1076).

5. Thou shalt simplify your life
Almost everyone has too much to handle in this complex, digital age. The average person receives 41.5 texts per day and sends/receives 141 email messages per day. However, complexity is often caused by us! This situation is great, though, because it means complexity can be easily removed by us as well. If you simplify, you will be able to stand out from the crowd, influence others, and reduce stress  (1203-1206).

6. Thou shalt say “NO”
Embrace the powerful habit of saying or typing “no thanks.” Often our ultimate success is determined by what we decide NOT to do, as much as by what we decide to do. Get in the practice of initially saying no. If an opportunity does not inspire an immediate “I have to do this!” reaction, it will not be missed  (1210-1212)

By saying yes to everyone, you say no to everyone….Trying to help everyone often results in helping no one. We get more and more requests digitally since it’s much easier to ask people for a favor via the safety of a keyboard than looking them eye-to-eye. Hence, the ability to say no, strongly and politely, becomes more and more important in the future. By all means, you should help people; that is really why we are all on this planet. However, we suggest going “long and deep” rather than “fast and vast.” (1253-1288).

Try answering all digital items in two sentences or less (1419).

7. Thou shalt be personal
Personal is powerful. For many of us, the thought of having others know more about our passions and personal lives can be daunting, especially in the digital, online realm. If you become comfortable with this form of sharing, however, it can be powerful for anything you are trying to accomplish…Remember that personal isn’t about revealing that you have a tattoo on your left shoulder, it’s about letting people know about the passions and principles in your life that you stand by. When they know this information about you, personal becomes powerful (1988-1990).

8. Thou shalt have a technology Sabbath
Starting now, pick one day during the week when you will completely unplug from technology. That’s right, no email, mobile phone, texting, tweets, etc. If this seems impossible, then you need this even more! If you can’t go cold turkey, even for a day per week, start slow by selecting one day per month (2736-2738).

9. Thou shalt have a digital mentor
Determine a leader you admire. Spend at least 20 minutes a day watching his or her activity. Pay attention to: Who is he conversing with? What topics does she post and in what tone? Why does he post? When does she post? Where does he post and what tools or sites does he use? The best digital mentor is generally someone that is in your industry or shares similar interests—someone that you find intriguing. Learn from these mentors and practice what they are doing (3231-3240).

10. Thou shalt share information
With the digital revolution, you actually gain more influence as a leader when you share information. Remember that influence has surpassed information in terms of importance because information is cheap and easily accessible (3601-3603).

If you were to take only one thing from this chapter it is simply this: you will attract more followers digitally in two days than you will in two months if you show interest in them versus trying to get them interested in you (3814-3818).

Digital Leader by Erik Qualman.


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Equipping Counselors for your Church
You’ll find lots of helpful free resources here to use along with Bob Kellemen’s Equipping Counselors for your Church. They include: (1) A twenty-five page detailed teaching outline of the entire book; (2) Five PowerPoint presentations that develop and illustrate the teaching outline; (3) All 17 Appendix Documents as free PDF downloads; (4) A sample Class Syllabus (that can easily be re-worked for various settings).

How fun is your workplace? Home?
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The Amish Project
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A Digital Dictionary for Leaders

When Erik Qualman speaks or writes, I listen. He’s been at the cutting edge of digital thinking for a number of years now and I deeply respect how hard he works at explaining the significance and implications of digital technology in our personal and vocational lives.

In his first book, Socialnomics, he argued that companies, institutions, and even individuals who did not adapt to and harness the new world of social media would severely limit their usefulness and effectiveness.

In his latest book, Digital Leader, Erik calls leaders to face and harness the changes that digital technology has brought into their workplaces and businesses. If you’re familiar with leadership books, you’ll probably already be familiar with some of what Erik writes about. However, his unique emphasis on the technological challenges and opportunities of leading in the digital age make the book a valuable, even vital, read.

As you can find full reviews on Amazon, I thought I’d explain the value of the book by producing a Digital Dictionary (today) and a Digital Decalogue (tomorrow).

We start today with the Digital Dictionary for Leaders. I’ve gone through the book and picked out key phrases that challenge us to understand and harness the new world we live and work in:

  • Digital footprints: the information we post about ourselves online
  • Digital shadows: what others post about us online
  • Digital legacy: what people will find online when they search for you 100 years from now
  • Digital celebrities: people who become famous for what they are and do online
  • Digital realm: the merged public and private world that means we can no longer have both a private and public life—they have become one and the same
  • Digital profile: 81% of children under the age of two have images of them posted online. 25% have an online presence before they are even born!
  • Digital tools: whatever technology simplifies life rather than complicates it
  • Digital native: grew up with technology as part of their world (opposite of digital immigrant)
  • Digital mining: collecting of all online information about someone
  • Digital bouquets: the passing on of encouragement using technology
  • Digital therapy: counseling given online or over the phone rather than face-to-face
  • Digital peer pressure: works the same way as the flesh version
  • Digital deputies: using Facebook and Youtube videos to catch looters and rioters (I remember a Scottish policeman telling me how many criminals he caught using Facebook!)
  • Digital oysters: the multiple online wealth-making opportunities
  • Digital log: posting online of daily goals to increase accountability and motivation
  • Digital currency: connections (the more friends, followers, etc., you have, the richer you are)
  • Digital drain: the amount of time a company devotes to responding to negative online publicity
  • Digital hugs: responding to customers and connections that post positive feedback and comments
  • Digital voice/tone: What your online communications say about you

If you had no idea what most of these phrases meant before reading this post, and you want to influence and lead in the church and elsewhere, you should probably buy Erik’s book with your next click!


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4 Myths People Want to Believe about Social Media
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Christians get depressed too
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Listening to Prozac…and to the Scriptures
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How to pull out of the burnout spiral
“Pastor, you are prone to burnout for good reason: the demands of ministry are endless and urgent and you lack the natural ability to self-regulate. Right now you need to stop and seek those in authority over you and a few trusted friends to tell you how they see your life out of balance. For me, that means asking questions about everything from physical exercise to sleep to prayer and relationships with my wife and children. Restoring a good work/life balance will help stem the tide of burnout, but if we’re being truthful, it will only get you to zero.”

How to read the Bible through the Jesus Lens and The Broken Hearted Evangelist are two new books I’d highly recommend.


CK Short: Ordinary

Last week Tim challenged me to speak on being “Ordinary.” We’re still friends, as I hope this CK Short will demonstrate.

Download here.

Listen to the end to hear Tim’s response and to find out what I’ve asked him to speak on next week. Here’s a partial transcript of the podcast.

What would you say if one of your friends asked you, “David tell us what it’s like to be ordinary?”

Well I had the privilege of “enjoying” that experience last week. When offered the opportunity to challenge me to speak on a subject of his own choice, my friend Tim Challies said, “David, why don’t you tell us what it’s like to be ordinary.”

So that’s what springs into Tim’s mind when he thinks of me: “Ordinary.”

I mean it’s not a huge insult I suppose. He didn’t ask me to speak on being “Ugly” or being “Offensive” or being a “Fool.” But it’s not exactly the greatest compliment either is it?! “Ordinary”

OK, I didn’t expect him to ask me about being “Extraordinary” or “Super-intelligent” or “Tall, dark and handsome,” but I expected maybe something a bit more than “Ordinary.”

Maybe something like being “Loyal” or “Consistent” or “Reliable” or something like that. But “Ordinary!?”

I looked up ordinary.com and found that it’s owned by Tanglewood Ordinary Restaurant – serving grandmother’s Sunday dinner since 1986. Not exactly the most inviting name for a restaurant – Tanglewood Ordinary Restaurant. Ordinary.net hasn’t even been purchased yet.  Shows you how popular a concept “ordinary” is!

When I looked up a dictionary, I found this definition: “Ordinary: a clergyman appointed formerly in England to attend condemned criminals.” It’s also used to describe “some of the fundamental elements of the Catholic Mass.” In Britain it can even be used of “a Tavern or eating house serving regular meals.”

But I don’t think Tim was meaning any of these possibilities; rather he was thinking along the lines of this definition: “ordinary – the regular or customary condition or course of things.” Some synonyms are “everyday” “normal” “run-of-the-mill” “humdrum.”

Not much encouragement there, though, is there. Who wants to be ordinary, run-of-the-mill, humdrum?

Well, the good news for me and for you is that God wants the vast majority of His people to be “ordinary.”

“Ordinary” as a compliment
I know I’ve been expressing outrage over Tim’s choice of subject for me, but it’s all been somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I know the sense in which Tim is using the word and that’s why when he gave me the assignment, I didn’t give him a punch over the Internet. Rather I said, “Thank you, Tim. I take that as the highest compliment.” Because I believe that God’s will for me, and indeed for most of us, is to be extraordinarily ordinary!

Let me explain what I mean!

When you read through Ephesians 1-3, you scale the immeasurable heights and depths and breadths of Christian doctrine: predestination, election, redemption, justification, sanctification, union with Christ, and so on. It leaves you utterly breathless with wonder and awe.

And you think, “Right what’s coming. If God has done all that for me, what’s he going to ask me to do to show my gratitude?” You come to the end of the doctrinal depths of chapter 3 with the climactic doxology: “To him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages world without end. Amen.”

And you hardly dare turn the page.

Because you know that God’s about to demand that you go on mission to Africa or Antarctica for the rest of your life. Or He’s going to tell you to give away all your money and possessions and live in the ’hood. Or He’s going to say “I want you to live on top of a pole in the desert for 40 days.” Or “I want you to evangelize the whole city by midnight.” Or “You must preach to 20,000 people every Sunday and plant 1000 churches before you die.”

But instead, when you summon up the courage to start reading chapters 4-6 you can hardly believe your eyes. God wants me to tell the truth, to exercise my gifts in the church, to be honest, to love my wife or obey my husband, to honor my parents, to bring up my children for the Lord, to be a faithful employee and a fair employer, to be good citizen, etc.

It’s hardly the stuff of bestseller biography or conference ministry is it! I mean it sounds so humdrum, so run-of-the-mill, so…well, so ordinary.

And that’s exactly what God’s will for most of us is. Yes, there will always be a few Christians, maybe one in every hundred thousand, who are called to an extraordinary life or an extraordinary ministry. And yes, they’re the ones that get so much attention in this inter-connected media-saturated world. So much so that we begin to think that every Christian is like them and I’m just such a boring failure.

But the reality is that God calls most Christians to ordinariness, to serve him in the everyday, in the humdrum – in the home, in the workplace, in the church, in the community and in the nation.

And that’s not just found in Ephesians; you can see the same pattern in Romans, Colossians, Philippians, etc., too.

Extraordinary ordinariness
But remember I said that we are called to extraordinary ordinariness. Yes we are to serve God in these everyday run-of-the mill roles, but we are to excel in them. We are to be extraordinary wives, husbands, parents, children, employees and employers. We are to be the best ordinary we can be. And that’s what will make a lasting difference to the church and the world.

Extraordinary ordinariness will have a much greater impact than mere extraordinariness. Yes, the latest Christian sports star will get a million blog posts written about him every time he breathes. Yes, the latest kid to write about his last trip to heaven and back will make millions for his parents. Yes, the newest mega church pastors will wow CNN for a few weeks.

But the greatest and the most permanent good will come from the impact and influence of extraordinarily ordinary Christians excelling in their ordinary days and duties.

Isn’t that so encouraging! That will revolutionize the way I change my baby’s diapers, tidy my yard, talk to my employer, manage my money, drive my car, participate in politics, behave in my marriage, and so on. On one level, it’s so very ordinary. But God blesses faithful ordinariness, and especially extraordinary ordinariness to transform lives, families, churches, communities, and nations, one ordinary life at a time.

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  • These individuals alter career paths and require families to work together.
  • They invite each of us to engage, instead of simply walking by.
  • They love unconditionally, asking little in return beyond a simple acknowledgement.
  • They celebrate the little things in life, and displace the stress that bogs most of us down.
  • They seem to understand what true life is about, more than many of us.
  • They offer us the opportunity to truly value all people as created equal.

Happy Birthday Cade! I’m so grateful that God let us be your parents. You’ve changed us in ways we would have never changed ourselves. You’ve given us permission to measure loving kindness over productivity. You’ve offered us a glimpse of God’s grace while shattering our preconceived ideas of what is most important. We love you!”

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