Rowan explains the greatest leadership failure he’s seen.
Rowan describes the leadership successes he has seen.
Rowan explains what it means to be a world changer.
Rowan Gillson, founder of World Changers Summit, is the President and CEO of the Institute of Photographic Studies. (ipsphoto.co) He and his wife Jocelyn reside in Portland, OR, but spend much of their time on the road hosting photography workshops rooted in a Christian worldview. Rowan has traveled the world, serving as a team leader for various groups throughout Asia, Europe, and New Zealand/Australia. Rowan has hosted large events for the Institute in Basic Life Principles and served as an Assistant Staff Director at Summit Ministries. In 2010 Rowan was selected as one of 4000 Christian leaders from around the world to participate in the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa.
Sunday, 9:30am – Dream Big for the Glory of God (see more sessions here)
If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll learn that our “yes” will be “yes” when our “no” becomes consistently and truly “no”.
So we have to lose our fear of “no”.
“Never Quit” What a spectacularly bad piece of advice. It ranks up there with “Oh, that’s a funny dirty joke, let’s tell the teacher!” Never quite? Never quit wetting your bed? Or that job you had at Burger King in high school? Never quit selling a product that is now obsolete?
Wait a minute. Didn’t that coach say quitting was a bad idea?
Actually, quitting as a short-term strategy is bad idea.
Quitting for the long term is an excellent idea.
I think the advice giver meant to say, “Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment.” Now that’s good advice.
We’ve talked about quitting before (see the post here) and not just because we want to give you Seth’s book, although that’s true.
Many of us were raised under the fanfare of world changing. God put us here on earth, we were told, to change it.
Many of us (though not all) really believed that; many of us (though fewer) still do.
Impassioned by this call, we became “Generation Yes”. Anything is possible and we know because we’ve tried it.
However, the mark against us is that we tend not to uphold the opposite of our “yes”. That is, we’ve learned how to say yes but often forget how to say “no” when it counts.
But quitting is a strategic move towards growth. And we as Christians, more than any other group, should know that. See if any of these ring a bell:
- “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother…” (Genesis2:24)
- “Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)
- “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17:16)
- “Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?” (Luke 13:7)
- Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
For the Christian, quitting one thing to obediently and excellently do another should be part of our spiritual DNA.
Sadly, what we often find is a community of over-committed, coffee addicts running around hoping the juice we’re trying to wring out of our dehydrated rind will count as fruit.
If the Christian community is going to be a community of obedient excellence then it’s going to have to be a community of quitters. That is a people dedicated to quitting all other callings so they can fully commit to their calling.
Thus our “yes” and “no” have to be strategic. Thoughtful. Obedient.
This leads us to an interesting conclusion, if quitting is a strategic move, it can be included in our strategic plan. To that end, Seth gives the following assignment.
Write it down. Write down under what circumstances you’re willing to quit. And when. And stick to it.
He’s absolutely right. As you sit down to plan your moves ahead, include an exit strategy.
One of the most practical ways to do this is start with your values. Have a list of uncompromisable conflicts in place. Does it take away from your family? Church? Another project?
When you say yes to something, it will costs you. As you plan, decide ahead of time what you aren’t willing to pay. And if that “yes” starts over-charging, cut it loose.
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ (Luke 14:28-30)
I know I’m not supposed to wax nostalgic on this blog (I have my own, neglected blog for that), but after reading pages 22 and 23 of Seth Godin’s The Dip, I found my mind wandering back to a conference message I heard about 5 or so years ago called “The Main Thing”.
C.J. Mahaney got up in front of the gathered crowd of college students at the 2001 New Attitude conference and boldly proclaim, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
I wasn’t there to hear that message.
But proving the three-cord, unbreakable power of ideas, passion and technology, a friend would burn a copy of the message and it would end up changing my life. (Historical note: that message would go on to become the now-famous book, “The Cross-Centered Life”)
In that message, C.J. argued that we have to acknowledge the obvious. Quoting George Orwell, he. said, “We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the highest duty of intelligent men.”
My whole life seems to be about learning how deep that well goes –finally conceding that there isn’t anything new under the sun and that being profound means insisting all profound people tie themselves to reality.
Along that vein of common profundity, comes pages 22 and 23 where Godin finally gets around to saying what we were all thinking, namely that what he’s written is really, well, obvious.
It’s easy to complain that the advice in this little book is brain-dead obvious. I mean, who doesn’t already know that the secret to success is to be successful, that providing a great product or service is the right thing to do, and that you shouldn’t quite in the face of adversity?
That’s a fair question. And, honestly, one that came at exactly the right moment for me as I read the book.
If you’ve read the book, you know this question comes right after three very satisfying charts illustrating the three curves that form the thesis of the book (I won’t spoil it for you, suffice it to say they provide a fantastic set of paradigms you’ll be using for quite some time).
After hearing his argument, I found myself simultaneously thrilled to have my intuition take on literary flesh and disappointed that the big reveal was something I knew all along.
But, again, Godin answers his question (who doesn’t already know this?) with equal parts profound and obvious,
You don’t. That’s the bad news.
That’s it. The real nub of the issue.
It’s not that we don’t know what the right thing is; it’s that we just don’t do it. This leads Godin to ask,
When it comes right down to it, right down to the hard decisions, are you quitting any project that isn’t a Dip? Or is it just easier not to rock the boat, to hang in there, to avoid the short-term hassle of changing paths?…Are you over-investing (really significantly overinvesting time and money so that you have a much greater chance of dominating a market? And if you don’t have enough time and money, do you have the guts to pick a different, smaller market to conquer?
Once you’re doing those things, then you get it.
The point being: no matter what you know, you have to do something with it.
So the question is: what knowledge should you be acting on?
Do you know you need to quit that project? Do you know you need to do your taxes? Do you know you need to schedule that meeting? Do you know you need to register for this year’s conference (you knew that was coming)? Do you know you need to have that tough conversation? Do you know you need to find a better work flow? Do you know you need to get some accountability for your Netflix addiction?
Whatever it it is that you know, the challenge is (and always has been) to teach that knowledge how to walk.
I’m convinced that, perhaps more than understanding The Dip (although, that really is important), we need to first understand The Gap: The Gap that sits between our head and our hands and converts useful instruction into useless concepts.
So, for today, pick one thing –just one thing that you know you need to do– and do it.
If you’re looking for today’s “one thing”, might I humbly suggest that registration is still open (click here)!
And for you first timers, we’re giving away copies of Seth Godin’s The Dip when you register (details here).
Alumni, if you haven’t received your free copy, just send an e-mail to email@example.com and we’ll put it in the mail for you.
Brig. Gen. Scott A. Vander Hamm is the Commander, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. He is responsible for the combat readiness of the Air Force’s only B-2 wing. His responsibilities include development and employment of the B-2′s combat capability as part of the Air Force’s Global Strike Task Force. His command provides logistics support for the Air Force Reserve 442nd Fighter Wing; Missouri Air National Guard 131st Bomb Wing; Missouri Army National Guard 1st Battalion, 135th Aviation Unit; and the Navy Reserve Maritime Expeditionary Security Division 13. He manages flying assets in excess of $46 billion and an annual operations and maintenance budget of $147 million.
Saturday, 7:00pm – Doing More Than You Ever Thought Possible (see more sessions here)
You can learn more about Randall Niles and his ministry here: Post: “Meet Randall Niles“
As a special gift to the world changers who have attended our previous events, we mailed copies of Seth Godin’s The Dip and we’d like to give a copy to those of you who are joining us for the first time! More on that below.
Godin begins the book by pointing out the power of the Zipf curve (Randall Niles will explain more about that on Friday’s post), and explains the importance of becoming the best in the world –what is really the best in your world. He writes,
The mass market is dying. There is no longer one best song or one best kind of coffee. Now there are a million micromarkets, but each micromarket still has a best. If your micromarket is “organic markets in Tulsa,” then that’s your world. And being the best in that world is the place to be.
Exactly. Here in the WCS shop, we believe that changing the world starts by changing your world. That is, the world that God put you in. Through consistent, diligent obedience, your world will be changed. And as that piece of the global puzzle is conformed into the image of Christ, it begins to effect the pieces around it.
But the number one problem that we have seen with “world changers” is that we consistently bite off more than we can chew.
Rather than having a commitment to calling, we have a commitment to everything. This creates an insurmountable to-do list that leads to a commitment to nothing.
As Godin puts it,
If you’re sold on being the best, but you’ve been frustrated in the route you’re taking to get there, then you need to start doing some quitting.
Ask yourself, Is there a commitment in your life that is keeping you from being committed to the other things in your life?
Did your pride or fear push you to say yes to something that has caused a drop in the quality of your work?
Is your plate so full it looks like a chafing dish (as Elizabeth would say)?
Be honest with yourself: right now, on your mind or your to-do list is a project or an opportunity that is sapping the life out of you and the things you’ve been called to do.
So isn’t it time to quit?
We’d like to help you do that.
For those of you who haven’t attended a World Changers’ Summit yet, we’re going to give a copy of The Dip to the first 10 of you who register.
And for you alumni who haven’t yet received your copy, the offer still stands. Just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
One final thought: By saying “no” to everything else, you can say “yes” to your calling.