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Quotebook: Self-Awareness

How aware are you of your own tendencies?  Are you aware of those times when your own preconceived ideas and certainties serve as a blockade to anything unfamiliar or different?  I love this line from Ed Catmull, current president of Pixar.

“There is nothing quite as effective, when it comes to shutting down alternative viewpoints, as being convinced that you are right.”  Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.

When I read this and allow it to penetrate my own prejudices I remember my own resistance to ideas like the small group connection, video curriculum and the HOST strategy.

Quotebook: Protecting the New

I have said for many years that I want my title to be “Disruptor of the Status Quo.”  If you know me…you know how perfect that would be.  And it would make perfect sense that my copy of Ed Catmull’s Creativity Inc. is one marked up, underlined, bookmarked and starred book (except that my copy is on my phone using the Kindle app).

One of the ideas that grabbed my attention by the throat was the practice at Pixar of providing protection for new ideas.  Think about how critical it might be to protect new ideas where you work.  This is a quote worth writing out on a post-it and keeping where you can’t miss it:

“Whether it’s the kernel of a movie idea or a fledgling internship program, the new needs protection.  Business-as-usual does not.  Managers do not need to work hard to protect established ideas or ways of doing business.  The system is tilted to favor the incumbent.  The challenger needs support to find its footing.  And protection of the new–of the future, not the past–must be a conscious effort.”  Ed Catmull, Creativity Inc.

See also, The Futility of the Mainstream, Beware the Lure of the Status Quo and Purpose or Pain: Two Antidotes for the Status Quo.

Dallas Willard on Our Most Serious Failure

What are you doing to and for your coaches that you want them to pass on to leaders?  I know you know by now that that’s how it works.  Whatever you want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first…and by extension, whatever you want to happen at the leader level, will have to happen to your coaches first.  See also, Life-Change at the Member Level.

See where this is going?

And that leads to two observations:

  • Someone is going to have to do the right things to and for your coaches (that would be you).
  • If you want the right things to happen at the member level, you’re going to have to do the right things to and for your coaches.

What do you need to do to and for your coaches?  I think Dallas Willard was on to a very good way to say it: “How to live the life of Jesus.”

And that leads to this challenging and convicting line:

“Our most serious failure today is the inability to provide effective practical guidance as to how to live the life of Jesus.”  p. 110, The Spirit of the Disciplines

Ready to do that?  It’s our job.


Quotebook: Thoroughly Conscious Ignorance

As you know, I’ve long been an advocate of being a learner.  Reading broadly, stoking curiosity, exploring stacks of seemingly unrelated material and curating collections of great questions are all part and parcel of the journey.

Watching Stuart Firestein’s TED video on the pursuit of ignorance was just one of my most recent excursions.  I came away with several great quotes and a new appreciation for my own willingness to experiment in a search for better ways to connect people and make followers of Jesus.  If you’ve never seen it you can watch it right here.

Here is the quote that caught my attention:

“Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science.”  James Clerk Maxwell

I know this is ostensibly a quote about science.  No matter.  It is actually about the idea that only when we are aware (conscious) of our own limited knowledge (ignorance) of how things work, will we become open to what is still possible.

Why is this important?  Clearly, our current strategies have proven ineffective at connecting the widening 60%.  Want to connect them?  I do…and it will take a collection of strategies we have not yet discovered.  See also, Different Leads to a Church OF Groups.

“They Just Don’t Know What’s Good for Them” #irrationality

“They just don’t know what’s good for them.”

“If they knew what was good for them, they’d sign up for a small group.”

“If they knew what was good for them, they’d attend worship and stay for Sunday school.”

“If they knew what was good for them, they’d be leading a small group.”

Ever said anything like that?  I think it’s safe to say all of us have said something like that.  And that’s understandable.  It’s probably even human nature.

It’s understandable and it’s probably human nature…but it’s actually a kind of irrationality.

I love Peter Drucker’s take on the idea that the customer is irrational (a common complaint in business).

“To assume–as has lately become fashionable–that customers are irrational is as dangerous a mistake as it is to assume that the customer’s rationality is the same as that of the manufacturer or supplier–or that it should be.”  Peter Drucker, Managing for Results

Next time you feel overwhelmed by the need to say that “they just don’t know what’s good for them,” keep in mind that they don’t share your worldview…or your irrationality.  See also, Avoid These 4 Realities at Your Own Peril.

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Quotebook: When An Organization Begins to Die

I loved Bob Buford’s book, Drucker & Me.  If you’ve not picked it up yet, I highly recommend it.  It’s a behind the scenes glimpse of one of history’s greatest strategic minds.  It’s also highly practical and you will come away with a great set of takeaways.

Here’s a one liner that instantly made it onto my post-it note wall:

“An organization begins to die the day it begins to be run for the benefit of the insiders and not for the benefit of the customers.”  Drucker & Me

Powerful and sobering.  Early on I was influenced by a talk given by Jim Dethmer where he pointed out that Willow Creek’s primary customers, their end users, were not the people in the seats.  Their customers were the people not in the seats.

Dethmer’s line of reasoning was that Willow Creek existed to reach the customer and that once reached that customer would become an envisioned and empowered “employee” who would join the mission of reaching other customers.

Made great sense when I first heard it in 1991.  Makes even more sense today.

“An organization begins to dies the day it begins to be run for the benefit of the insiders and not for the benefit of the customers.”

Quotebook: When Change Efforts Fail

Have you tried more than once to introduce a new system or strategy to your ministry only to feel resistance?  In my pursuit of a better understanding of bringing change (which I end up doing a lot of) I’m reading The Change Monster by Jeannie Daniel Duck.

“When a stagnating company attempts one change effort after another, and repeatedly fails to achieve any lasting result, two damaging things occur: (1) management loses credibility and (2) the rest of the workforce becomes change-resistant.”  The Change Monster, p. 43

Would you say your team or your ministry is highly change-resistant?  You might benefit from The Change Monster.  The metaphor Duck uses throughout the book is outstanding and the strategies she introduces are very transferable to our business.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Quotebook: Options and Differentiation

I am a fan of Simon Sinek’s thinking.  Start with Why has had a great influence on my thinking in the last several years.

I tripped across this line from Sinek last week.  Think about what it means for churches that are serving up a buffet of options:

“Companies that offer lots of options are often struggling to differentiate. Differentiation comes from clarity of Why, not excess of What.” Simon Sinek

If your church offers a menu of options (as opposed to a plated meal), might it be that the struggle is to differentiate brought on by a lack of clarity of Why?

By the way, Sinek’s take here reminded me of Youngme Moon’s insightful book, Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd.  If you’re involved in strategy, it is a must read in my opinion.

Quotebook: The Only Thing We Have to Bring to Community

“The only thing we have to bring to community is ourselves, so the contemplative process of recovering our true selves in solitude is never selfish.  It is ultimately the best thing we can give to others.” Parker Palmer, The Active Life, p. 29

Quotebook: Never Stop Questioning

I’ve written many times about the power of a great question.  Here are two of my favorite posts: Supercharge Your Ministry Impact with These 5 Questions and Ministry in a Fog? Here are 6 Critical Questions That Create Clarity.

Here is what Albert Einstein thought about questions:

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

When was the last time you asked a great question?

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