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Quotebook: Trade-Offs and the Pursuit of More

Looking for a way to have it all?  Whether we’re talking about ministry or life, many people look for opportunities to have it all or to do everything.  Wise leaders, essentialists, understand that “strategy is about making trade-offs.”  See also, Could This Strategic Misstep Be Limiting Your Ministry Impact?

I loved these lines from Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less:

“It’s easy to see why it’s tempting to deny the reality of trade-offs.  After all, by definition, a trade-off involves two things we want.  Do you want more pay or more vacation time?…A Nonessentialist approaches every trade-off by asking, “How can I do both?” Essentialists ask the tougher but ultimately more liberating question, “Which problem do I want? (Pg. 55, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less)”

Quotebook: Steve Jobs on Change

I love this line from the 2005 Stanford commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs:

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Only an enduring small group pastor makes it to the finish line.  And only the constant learner can look in the mirror and know when a change is in the wind.

Quotebook: The Problem with Isolation

Even after almost three decades of promoting small group ministry and writing about why we need community, I am still amazed and saddened that so many live in a kind of isolation.  There is profound wisdom in this quote from Basil, an early church father.

“When we live our lives in isolation, what we have is unavailable and what we lack is unprocurable.” Basil

Two Great Questions for Self Awareness

I read an article over the weekend by Bill Taylor over on the HBR Blog and came away with two great questions for personal reflection and self awareness.  Taylor is the co-founder of the Fast Company magazine and the author of two of my favorite books (Practically Radical and Mavericks at Work).  I’ve discovered more great insights in his writing than almost anyone else.

There were a number of great ideas in the article, but a line from John Wooden caught my eye:

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

Here are the two questions (to help you keep on learning):

I guess I’m a collector of questions and I love these two.  I thought you might too!

Quotebook: Making Choices Deliberately

essentialismI’m reading a powerful new book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.  This paragraph caught my attention in the first few minutes and I immediately thought about our many discussions about the intentional design of next steps.  I also thought about the buffet vs plated meal challenge that faces many, many churches.

“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default.  Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage.  In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making the execution of those things almost effortless (p. 7, Essentialism).”

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 will 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: 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.

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