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Video: Who's on the bus?

advance the ladder video who Dec 27, 2016


In our task-driven, production-oriented culture, we often look at WHAT we want to do, first. However, the greatest thing is not WHAT we do or even HOW we do it... it's the WHO, the people you ride with.

When you get that in order, everything else seems to take care of itself :-)

Let me back my bus up and explain... 

Professor Jim Collins studied what makes some businesses ultra successful while others are simply successful. In his book Good to Great he noticed the “great” companies start from a different point of reference than the “good” companies.

Collins used the analogy of a bus- and likes companies to them. Most “good” companies work through the following process:

* What- they first decide “What” the bus (read: the company) will be like. At this point, they usually define the mission of the organization.

* How- companies that will be successful then move on to not only defining what they will do and what they will be like, but the discuss how they will do it. They outline their vision and sometimes even put processes and organizational structure in place.

* Why- some companies rise higher. They articulate the reasons they do specific things. Lately, some companies have even begun creating “purpose statements” to communicate this.


What great companies do differently

Collins says that the “great” companies do something that almost seems counter-intuitive. Rather than beginning with the “What” or “How” or even the “Why,” they all start with a different question. They begin with the “Who.”

They begin by determining who should be on the bus- and who shouldn’t be. 

(By "the bus" he means the handful of people you can be close to. This doesn't mean you to affirm and honor all people; it just honestly admits that you can only be close to a few people.)

In other words, the great organizations begin with the relationships.

The best leaders know that if the right relationships are in the right place, you don’t need to worry about what the bus looks like, where the bus is going, how the bus will move, or even how the seats are arranged in the bus…

A cohesive team will figure those things out together and create the absolute best possible outcome.


Make it practical, real life

Practically speaking, the “who” issue actually trumps all other defining questions. You can be doing what you want to do (the what question is resolved) in the best possible location with the perfect life situation (read: all of the how questions are ideal)… even with a noble purpose that makes a difference (the why is incredible, in other words)… but if you’re doing it with the wrong people… ugh! You’ll feel miserable!

That is, I would go shovel a yard full of dog poo with some of my friends- but there are other people I know I wouldn't want to go to Disney with. See what I'm saying?

* Great scenario + wrong person = horrible

* Great person + wrong scenario = things are fine, fine, fine!

Notice some of Solomon's advice in Proverbs about nagging wives: 

* “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife" (Proverbs 21:9, ESV).

* “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike” (Proverbs 27:5, ESV).

Of course, we could flip the script and say the same thing about husbands, too. Solomon just doesn’t, because he doesn’t have experience with a husband of his own- just hundreds of wives!

Think about the divorce rate in Hollywood, where people have more money and greater opportunities than the vast majority of everyone on the planet… yet they run through marriages like people change majors in college.

Why? Because the “what”, the “how,” and the “why” don’t matter unless you have the correct “who.”


Each fork in the road... a relationship

Here’s the flip side: Even though the best case scenario with the wrong people will make you miserable, you can be living your “worst case scenario” with the right people and be happy. 

(That's great news when you have a tough year like we had in 2016. You look back and think, wow, at least we're together! We've made it... and though we don't want to do that again, I'm appreciative you're here with me...)

Plus, you can probably look back at every signifcant turn in your life- good and bad- and connect it to a relationship moreso than random decision to change. Right?

I have some of the skills I have now, because a youth minister believed in my when I was younger- and called them out of me. That relationship created the result... 

Of course, this doesn't absolve me for bad decisions I've made- and times I've taken the wrong turn... but those were usually with people, too.  

The point? Get the right people on, the wrong people off... and move forward.



This video clip comes from Lesson 06 in


Again, the who matters most.

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