Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shake It Up!

I've always been one to shake things up. Literally.

In grade school I would shake my milk carton up so much that the foam would spill out over the top when I opened it. Show me a shelf full of snow globes and prepare for a blizzard. If it's liquid (except sodas), expect a vigorous jiggle from me that rivals commercial paint shakers.

I'm not sure why I do that. Maybe my Mom traveled on bumpy roads a lot while I was still in her womb. Or perhaps the baby sitter set my bassinet on the washing machine to help me go to sleep. For whatever reason, I am a shaker. Shake it up!

Sometimes in meetings I ask, "What if?" Often I challenge the status quo, just to shake things up a bit and get our team looking from a different perspective.

As a worship pastor I would periodically move singers around, placing them near unfamiliar voices, seeking to help them break out of their norm, to try something new. As a leader, I often ask those whom I lead to swap responsibilities, giving each one a new perspective on what others do, and how it relates to what they do. Shake it up!

Sometimes this is a great strategy for releasing creativity, for liberating ideas. Simple actions like sitting in a different chair, or writing a Blog post in longhand (do we remember how to do that?) can go a long way to stimulating innovation.

Call me crazy, but there have been times when I literally will lay down on the floor or stand on a chair and scan the room to change my perspective from my usual 5'9" vantage point. Shake it up!

Turn off the light and think in the dark. walk or ride your bike instead of driving. Pause your iPod and listen to the silence.

Shake it up!

Question: What can you do to shake it up and give yourself a different perspective on what you are dealing with? Share below in responses.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

5 Tips For Roller-Coaster Riding

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Having spent 20+ years as a youth pastor, I have ridden more than my share of roller coasters. In fact, there was a time where I went 103 straight rides in the back seat.

(Some people say the front seat is the best, but my theory is that as the front passes over the first hill, it is going slow. The train accelerates as each car crosses the top because of gravity and weight, therefore the last seat in the last car is passing over the hill the fastest.)

Most of us have heard that life is a roller-coaster, and we have to do our best to navigate it, or simply hang on for dear life. If that is true, here are 5 tips for riding the roller-coaster of life:

Get off the roller-coaster - Often, we have a choice. Many of our choices produce results or consequences that can be avoided. Sometimes our choices could have been different. We can avoid some roller-coasters altogether.

Choose where you sit - I already told you of my string of back-seat rides and why I chose to sit there. In the same way, we can choose where we "sit" in life. Where will you get the best perspective? The best control? The best influence?

Choose who you sit with - Sometimes I would bribe a scared 7th grade boy from our group to ride with me. My goal: to help him overcome his fear and experience a thrill. Having someone with us as we navigate life gives us an incredible opportunity to mentor and influence, as they see how we respond to life's dips and climbs.

Watch what you eat - Riding a roller-coaster after eating two corn-dogs, cotton candy, and a coke is not wise. We need to maintain our life's disciplines (diet & exercise, spiritual health, emotional well-being) to effectively navigate the ups & downs and turns of life. Consistency is key.

Enjoy the ride - Some people ride roller-coasters by tightly gripping the safety bar and screwing their eyes shut. Others raise their arms and with wide-open eyes shout whoo-hoo! Life may be a difficult ride, but you can still find some joy in it.

Have a good "roller-coaster" story? Share it below in responses.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Leveraging Change

This morning as I began my run it was dark outside, with just a hint of dawn in the eastern sky. As I plodded along the miles, the light pushed back the darkness, and by the end of my run it was light. Just like dawn is an ever-changing situation, we deal with ever-changing situations everyday.

As I ran, this definition of creativity came to me: Leveraging our ever-changing situations and resources to achieve a desired result.

Artists do it all the time. A painter does not begin with an infinite number of colors, but rather blends, thins, and adjusts brush strokes to get the desired look on the canvas.

The same goes for musicians. Music is an constantly changing landscape. For instance, there have been a few occasions where I found myself at the last minute without a bass player for a worship set. We adapted by adjusting the EQ on the keyboard and let the left hand cover the bass line.

Another time during a sound check for our Sunday morning worship, the power went out in the entire grid. No problem. I had three acoustic guitars in my office, another staff member had two and we had several guitar players on the team. I put our drummer and percussionist both on percussion, and we led an acoustic set with six guitars and two percussionists. It was one of the most intimate and powerful worship services we have ever had.

Race car drivers face hundreds of changing situations in a race. And the ones who creatively leverage them to their advantage win races.

Great leaders and business people do the same thing: they leverage situations and resources and make things happen.

Creativity: Leveraging our ever-changing situations and resources to achieve a desired result.

Question: When have you adapted your situations and resources, and what were the results? Share your story below.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The End Of Rubber-Necking

My wife and I were on our way to lunch the other day when we came upon an auto accident. The vehicles involved, as well as the emergency response vehicles blocked one of the two lanes we were traveling on, and we were forced to merge into one lane. I commented, "Everybody's got to slow down to look." My wife responded, "people are naturally curious."

I think the term is rubber-necking. My wife calls is it curiosity. I call it gawking. Whatever one wants to call it, people slow down on both sides of the road to look. (Can you tell that I am frustrated?)

As I silently berated the gawkers, my mind began to become creative (some may say my mind wanderd), and I envisioned a device that public safety personnel could "pop" open that would become a visual barrier 15 feet high, and that surrounds the accident and emergency response vehicles. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

As I thought it through, it began to seem impractical: What if there were high winds? Would it get into the way of other motorists or of EMS personnel? Who would be assigned to collapse the device for future use? You get the picture. But, it would be a useful invention if someone could get it to work right.

I guess what I am saying is that many ideas come from frustration or inconvenience. My advice: use your frustrations or inconveniences as opportunities for creativity. Don't get mad, get ideas!

By the way, I did pray for the occupants of the auto accident as we drove on. That's it! A device that pops down a prayer card from the visor when it hears a siren or sees flashing lights...

Question: How do you respond to inconveniences? Please respond below.

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