Are you a Generous Mind?

Are you a Generous Mind? If you are intrigued by the idea, this is a place to explore what it means to you. Our blog focuses on helping you to learn what it means to be generous with what you know. You will find helpful tips and encouraging examples that will inspire you to release your ideas to the world! Find out more at www.generousmind.com.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Running to the Rainbows and Dodging Tornados

 

Innovation doesn’t usually happen on a sunny day. You know what I’m talking about . . . those days when the birds are singing their songs and the sunlight plays on the leaves making patterns on the sidewalk as you gaze up at that beautiful blue sky. Those days are wonderful, but they aren’t your innovation days.

 

Instead, innovation work happens in the middle of the storm where bands of rain burst, thunder claps and ominous clouds tower above you. Those days are intense. They keep you moving and adjusting your plans in response to these powerful forces of nature. 

 

As innovators, how can you thrive during these stormy days of uncertainty? This is a critical question that many don’t get right. Many innovators I’ve met run into the storm but come out all wet . . . with precious little to show for it. Burnout is common. Failure often leads to discouragement and a misunderstanding of an innovator’s role and abilities. 

Lockett, Texas (Ryan Shepard/Silver Lining Tours) 


Recently I saw this picture from Texas that got my attention. It isn’t often that you see a rainbow and a tornado in the same moment. But as I thought more about the picture, I began to see it as a powerful metaphor for thriving in the discipline of innovation. 

 

Given that we do our work in the storms of life, how do you thrive? I think the secret is in that picture. As we navigate the stormy innovation process, we have to learn how to run to the rainbows and dodge the tornados. 

 

Rainbows represent the key learning that we are seeking from our experimentation efforts. Remember that the key outcome of innovation is not greater revenue or better systems. Instead, the key outcome is learning, which leads to the ability to build programs that generate revenue and enhance existing systems. By intentionally chasing these bursts of learning, you see key insights between the storm clouds and torrential downpours, and this makes the storms so worthwhile. 

 

Tornadoes represent the traps that flatten your innovation efforts in minutes. These destructive traps could be internal politics, relational blowups or bad innovation discipline. Whatever the reason, running into a tornado is always disastrous. It distracts you from your objectives, fills you with doubt and creates confusion on your team. You simply have to look at a home that has been flattened by a tornado to imagine the damage it can do to your project. 

 

My guess is that the question foremost on your mind is, “So what can I do to find those elusive rainbows and avoid those dangerous tornadoes?” Great question! Here are three ideas to help you navigate the storms of innovation work:

1.     Be aware of your surroundings. Never put your head down so much that you can’t stay very aware of your environment. Innovation requires quick adjustments and a high level of spatial awareness.

2.     Remember that rainbows don’t last forever. How many times have you seen a rainbow only to have it fade or disappear entirely before you could show it to someone else? Rainbows require your full attention when they happen. It is the same with innovation insights.

3.     Take tornadoes seriously. Many times, I’ve minimized the dangers of relationship struggles, political plays or sloppy execution. Minimizing these things can lead to big surprises. Take destructive forces in your market, organization, relationships or processes seriously and address them. 

 

So don’t be discouraged if many of your days are stormy. Revel in the rainbows and run away from the tornados.

Monday, November 02, 2020

When A Generous Mind Becomes a Leader

 

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

Most of our insights about generous minds tend to focus on those with ideas to share: writers, influencers, speakers, etc. These are critical roles. We also focus a lot of time on the average person who wouldn't call themselves any of those things but still has ideas to share. They are also critical to the generous mind ecosystem. 

But what about leaders? Can they be generous minds as well? What are the traits of a leader who is generous with their ideas? Here are a few to consider . . . and if you are a leader to assess in yourself. 

A leader with a Generous Mind:

  1. Is aware of the weight their ideas have on those they lead and refrains from using that weight to manipulate or bully others. 
  2. Recognizes the value of ideas and seeks to listen to the ideas of others. 
  3. Gives space for people to process and consider the merits of different ideas and give input.
  4. Rewards others for being generous with what they know.
  5. Values ideas enough to put them into action and help the group benefit from the result.
As you evaluate leaders this week, look for these 5 traits. 

If you are a leader, take 5 minutes to consider these traits and ask yourself how you might embody them in your service to those you lead. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Innovation Wisdom from Bugs Bunny (on his 80th Birthday)

Photo via Wikipedia
This famous bunny is known the world over. And as we celebrate Bugs Bunny's 80th birthday, we wondered if he might have some wisdom for innovators out there. So here are 5 Bugs Bunny quotes applied to the work of innovators around the globe.

“And remember, ‘mud’ spelled backwards is ‘dum’.”
Sometimes you have to reframe that "mud" right in front of you to understand it for what it is.

“Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out alive!”
You are going to make mistakes as you innovate. Be willing to laugh at yourself and lean into what you learn from life. 

“If an interesting monster can’t have an interesting hairdo I don’t know what this world is coming to.”
Get to know your customer and their needs . . . even if they are very different from your needs or experiences. 

“Oh well, maybe I can shine it up and use it for an ashtray. ‘”
Many times a failed experiment actually turns out to be something amazingly useful when looked at in a new way. 

“The way I run this thing you’d think I knew something about it.”
Be willing to experiment and try new things with a confidence that comes from your passion for exploration. 

Thank you Bugs for your innovation wisdom!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Innovating Around Short Term Missions

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash
One of the areas of global mission that will require significant innovation because of Coronavirus Pandemic disruption is the short term missions trip. This post is not proposing solutions but resourcing you with some quality insights to help you innovate. Please consider sharing at the end of this post what you are doing to innovate around short term missions.
  • Standards of Excellence recently did a webinar called "You Don't Have to Go to Give." Watch the Video
  • The Upstream Collective has a new download to guide you in "Taking a Virtual Short Term Trip." Download the PDF
  • Rachel Pieh Jones has an amazing curation of articles on the disruption to short term missions. See her Post Here
NOTE: These links were curated by the Missions Catalyst Newsletter. If you aren't subscribed, we highly recommend it. Subscribe here

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

God, Germs and Global Missions

When crisis hits people long for what is familiar, comforting and encouraging. This was on full display when nations started going into lockdown earlier this year. People sought out their favorite music, the voices of their pastors and the solace of friends . . . but all virtually. 

But what happens to those things that aren't so comfortable; not so natural to do? Well, those things generally are put to the side. And that is what we saw with the Missions Programs in churches around the world. Suddenly church was a facebook live feed and a set of Zoom boxes. In that mix, it has been hard to make missions thinking, prayer and action a top priority. 

That is why we partnered with Sixteen:Fifteen and Within Reach Global to do two webinars called "God, Germs and Global Missions." The first episode focused on a key concepts and ways of thinking to bring missions into a church in lockdown. The second episode focused on practical tools and tips to support global missions engagement post-pandemic. Take a moment to watch both of these webinar videos:

Watch the Webinar Video
Watch the Webinar Video





Who Will Be Singing Songs?

"On the day when a pandemic darkens the door of this world and threatens the work of God’s people on every continent, will the only sound be the sound of sirens? Who will be singing songs, who will be writing poems, and who will be telling the stories of faith?" (From Serving Effectively in the Face of a Pandemic)
These words were written at the end of the SARS Outbreak and they ask an important question. I'm happy to say that this pandemic has answered the question with conviction. There have been countless songs sung to bring hope; while others have been sung from places of great sorrow. Both have lifted the human spirit and shown us that God is with us even in the midst of this crisis. 
Two songs in particular have greatly impacted the Protestant community and I wrote blog posts for both of them. While both songs have been a blessing to me, my blog posts are not reflections on their personal significance. Instead they are tools to help you use these songs as you lead others in prayer, worship and deeper faith. I hope these two resources help you. 

Way Maker: Use this song to lead others into deeper understanding of who God is and how He is at work in their lives. Read more here.

The Blessing: Use this song to accept this Biblical blessing and then pray it over the nations as they seek peace in difficult times. Read more here. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Finding Our Way through Song

There are songs that comfort, songs that challenge and then there are songs that remind us of the truth we already know. Those can at times be the most powerful because they are reminding us of things we hold dear but have long forgotten. And those truths are even sweeter when rediscovered because we have tasted them before.

One of the songs that has had a huge impact during the pandemic is "Way Maker," written by Sinach, a Nigerian worship singer. It is simple but profound because it reminds us that God will make a way, does preform miracles, keeps His promises and is light in this dark world. 

I came to know this song through Michael W. Smith's cover of it and have also enjoyed Leeland's cover. I first heard it listening to Smith's weekly live worship concern on Saturday nights at 6 p.m. Eastern. If you haven't listened to it, I would encourage you to listen to the past live events and tune in for this coming week's worship time. It stopped me in my tracks and reminded me of who God is and what He promises to do for me. 

But if you simply stop at being reminded, you will miss out on so much of what this song can do for you in your spiritual walk. Here is an exercise you can do on your own or with your small group virtually. Maybe even consider doing this with your church virtually or in person. 

The key to this song is how it reminds us of 4 attributes of God: way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, and light in the darkness. As you let those words wash over you, the next natural question is, "How is God those things?" Let's take a look:

Way Maker: The greatest declaration that Jesus makes about this attribute is in John 14:6 when He says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus is comforting his disciples in this chapter and explaining what awaits them, but his disciples (specifically Thomas) have doubts. How will it actually work? It is in that moment that Jesus makes this powerful declaration and it becomes a promise for us to hold on to. Through Jesus and His sacrifice, we can always find our way to God and God in turn promises to make a way for us as we walk alongside Him with the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Miracle Worker: Over and over again Jesus says to his disciples that they will work miracles just as He was doing. At the end of His life (Matt. 21:21) he says "Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done." Jesus worked miracles a examples to us of how the rules worked differently in the Kingdom. What is a miracle to us, is normative in God's Kingdom.  So as we recognize His power to work miracles, we also must realize that as His children bringing in the Kingdom we have the opportunity to live by the same set of new rules. 

Promise Keeper: Many times we waiver in our belief that what God promises will come true. We don't see the evidence of it in this world and we struggle to see the workings of the Kingdom. So we doubt. But Paul was very firm when he said in 2 Corinthians 1:20 "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." Jesus' death on the cross and His future return mean that every promise we can find in Scripture is "'Yes' in Christ!" What a powerful reminder of God's faithfulness to us in times of trial, discouragement and frustration. 

Light In the Darkness: There is a clear promise in the Bible that Jesus will overcome the powers of this world. He will defeat the darkness of pain, sorrow, anger, despair and separation from God with the light of His never-ending love. In John 1:4-5 Jesus is described this way, "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." This attribute is the culmination of the 4:

Because He makes a way by His miraculous power and upholds every promise made by His Father in Heave, He can now be the light that drives away darkness!

So take these Scriptures about each attribute, and the many others that affirm these truths, and as you sing, lead people into a deeper understanding of who God is. Here are some thoughts on how to do that:
  1. Have people write down ways they have seen God display these attributes in their walk with Him.
  2. As the song plays, use the screen to show the verses that describe God in these ways.
  3. Listen to the song together and then have people share how they see these characteristics of God in the Bible. 
  4. Lead a time of prayer during or after the song asking God to reveal these characteristics to you in a new and fresh way. 
When a song represents a moment, like Way Maker does for this pandemic, don't miss the opportunity to lead people in worship and into God's Word in fresh and powerful ways. Remember that if the Holy Spirit is using this song, then it is our responsibility as leaders to utilize it as a resource to help the Church as they struggle to push beyond the world's way of thinking and grab hold of God's Kingdom. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Living in Two Realities

Photo from Wikipedia
"How do they do it?" I've often asked this question when I think of the Air Force pilots who kiss their kids goodbye and pick up Starbucks coffee as they race to work. Only their work requires them to step into a simulator cockpit and go on live missions flying drones remotely into battle. 

One minute you are thinking about your date that night and the next minute you are   on a mission that ends in enemy casualties and destruction you will never see. The question that comes to my mind is about how someone can live in those two realities. Both are real situations but they are radically different. They both expect the whole person to be engaged and tear at the person that is living in both. Again, "How do they do it?"

But as I have thought about it more and more, I realize that those Air Force pilots don't have that unique of a situation. Many of us are living in two realities. 

Let me give you an example. During this pandemic there are realities in your home where you are in lockdown and then you log into your Zoom or Skype call for a meeting, a talk with a friend or church. Just like that pilot, we are managing multiple realities on a daily basis. You might be sitting in a small apartment in a large steamy city somewhere on the Equator but looking into the face of someone living in a suburban single family home. Someone else might join you from a mountain cabin or a beach town.  

Your virtual meeting might be handling an emergency with dire consequences for countless people. Then you hang up and go make a sandwich. 

What does living in these multiple realities do to us? Those around us who don't live in "Zoomland" might ask of us, "How do they do it?" And they would be right to ask that question. What you are living in day after day of working virtually is a bit of an out-of-body experience. 

While the technology that allows for virtual work is amazing and very helpful. It has some significant implications for our lives. Here are only a few:

  • Ghost Living: I've noticed that the more I toggle between my two realities as I work virtually, the less human I become. I am not present in either reality. My family is forced to ignore me as I'm plugged into far-off places and those that I'm meeting with only see a small window into who I am and what my world is like. 
  • Where's the Water Cooler: When we toggle between realities there is no watercolor time. One minute you are talking with a family member about who is going grocery shopping and the next minute you are making a presentation. The down-time in both worlds evaporates as you have to use your precious moments in each reality to get practical details taken care of. 
  • Asking about the Weather: I've noticed that even in virtual work we talk about the weather. It is engrained in humanity to discuss our physical surroundings. But when you are working virtually, the weather you are discussing is your own and you are hearing about the weather of others. No longer is the weather a shared experience. You might say, "Yesterday was glorious! We went on a long bike ride." And the person on your call may respond that it was raining all day where they live. Simple things that used to bring us together now are individualized experiences to be reported rather than shared. 
Each of these implications are examples of the challenges that face those of us working virtually. I know that this isn't everyone's experience, but I think that this pandemic will install this reality as a reality for a significant portion of those who live in the Global North. 

Actually, I'll share with you that I have been working from a home office for two years before the pandemic. I actually enjoy it very much. So I don't write this post out of frustration or despair. 

Instead I write this so that we will think about the implications of living in two realities. If we simply shrug it off and say that it will not impact us (and those we live and work with), then we are mistaken. Like every work environment, it requires thoughtfulness, boundaries and intentionality. 

What will you do to be fully present in each of the realities you manage in this age of virtual work?