Two weeks ago I wrote a blog about unlocking creativity by doing something different, out of our normal comfort zones. In it, I described how I planned on building coffee and end tables. Well, I want to give an update…
I finished my first end table! I had a spot in my freshly painted office that was just begging for a table. So I came, I saw, and I conquered!
Building the table top resulted in some new skills formed and at times I had to make things up as I went (because I had terrible boards and no planer or table saw to make things perfect). Note: In life, leadership things are rarely [perfect and improvisation is necessary. It took a few hours and I’m very happy with the end result! I am already considering what kind of table top I want to build for the coffee table that will find a home in our living room.
So I put myself out there, wrote a blog about what I planned on doing, and then I did it.
Too many of us talk, talk, talk about what we’d like to do, but we never actually do it.
What “table” do you need to finish today? Just do it. You may be happily surprised at the result.
When is the last time you learned a skill, read a book in a genre you haven’t before, or played a game or sport you have always wanted to but were afraid to take the plunge into (like scuba diving!). I have found that when I try new activities it unlocks the creativity in my writing, speaking and pastoral ministry. It gives me fresh insight and often ideas locked deep in my subconscious come to the surface when my brain and body are thoroughly engaged in something outside of my comfort zone.
When was the last time you did something outside of your comfort zone?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching YouTube videos about building furniture. I’ve always been a sucker for design, especially the modernist stuff with clean lines. Finally, I decided to take action and moved from watching others create to creating with my hands. I have started to set up my own workshop in the garage and got some wood and supplies. No matter how ugly it turns out, I am going to build a coffee table and end tables in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for updates (if it’s really bad I may not show pictures!).
Generally, I spend my time off to read and write. I love doing both, but I have found that these activities are similar to what I do for work as a pastor. Because of this, I don’t have new stories and experiences to draw from, nor do I give my mind a break from the ins and outs of researching, reading and thinking about pastoral issues. It’s time to break out of the rut and blaze a new trail (if only for a few hours in the evening or on Saturday mornings!).
So…what will YOU do to unlock your creativity?
Here are three questions to ponder:
*What have you always wanted to try, but come up with excuses why it can’t happen (money, time, talent)?
*What are the ruts in your free time (Netflix, X-Box, web surfing) that keep pulling you away from something more life-giving?
*Who will help you (lend you a tool, a piece of sports equipment or teach you a skill)?
My coffee table may not turn out as expected, like some of the Pinterest cake fails out there. But at least I tried something new and problem solved using parts of my brain that are usually dormant. That’s a win. Creativity unlocked.
Let me know what you plan to tackle in the next few weeks. Let this be a summer of creativity!
I like to discuss issues of leadership, communication and Christian living. I’m passionate about these topics and in order to keep up in these areas I do my best to have a few books on the go. I’m always listening to audiobooks from my Overdrive app (free…through the local library). This has saved me hundreds of dollars and provided hours of enjoyment while I drive or do menial tasks around the house. I also read a lot on my Kindle app on my iPad. The books are cheaper and I like to be able to save my highlighted passages on my Kindle webpage. *For those who don’t know, if you have a Kindle account you automatically have a webpage where all your highlights and notes from your Kindle books are stored. And I still love the smell and feel of old school books…
Here are three recent reads that are worthy of your time and money, regardless of the format!
In a nutshell, the book is all about doing less, but doing it better. Not less work, but more focused work. It is all about finding our priority, the one thing that we must do, rather than trying to ‘have our cake and eat it too.’ This book is a fantastic reminder to find what is and should be important in our lives. A word of warning: Don’t give up family or God in order to prioritize work. That is essentially wrong thinking.
This short book packs a mighty punch. Keller is a master at making scriptures and concepts come alive for our everyday life. He takes 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7 and goes on to talk about our motivations and ego. Keller’s premise is that the ills of society are not caused by low self-esteem (what most modern psychologists believe), but because our self-esteem is hubris, or too high. The rest of the book is his attempt to show how to get the transformed view of self that only Christ can give. Exceptional book. Well worth the time.
Spiritual leadership is the main emphasis of this no nonsense, practical book. Bradford, an exceptional leader in his own right, rattles off wisdom gleaned from the bible and his own experience. He focuses on the areas of servant hood, systems, strategies, skills, strengths, stamina and stability. In case you are wondering, all this alliteration is natural-he is a proven Pentecostal pastor and preacher! This is a great read for those who are young in spiritual leadership or just need a refresher for the soul.
Enjoy! I’ll update you soon with more of the books that I have been reading. Read on and lead on!
I have a confession.
I’m an addict. And the drug of choice is fountain pens.
Ok, all drama aside, I love to write with vintage (and nu skool) fountain pens. The way the ink flows out of the pointed nib onto the paper is reminiscent of something from years gone by-when people actually wrote things by hand in a journal or even on a napkin. The smell of the paper and the ink, along with the feeling of a finely tuned writing instrument ignites the senses.
It was my good friend Dave who got me hooked on pens. You could say that he was my dealer. He is a collector par excellence, and he gave me MANY pens over the years. I used them daily, enjoyed writing with them…and then stopped.
I have no idea why.
Maybe it was because I was busy on my Macbook Pro, or maybe it was because I got lazy and didn’t want to rinse out pens or refill them when they ran out of ink.
Regardless of the reason, I lost the discipline of writing with a fountain pen.
Rekindling the Fire Within
Thankfully, over the last several months I have picked them up again. And now I can’t stop. I write with better clarity through pen and paper than on the computer keyboard, especially in the initial stages of a blog, sermon or book outline. I can draw arrows, cross out words, and scribble little notes and observations in the margins with a pen. Sure, all of this can be done digitally; it’s just not quit the same.
I have rediscovered the joys of handwriting with my MontBlanc, Schaeffer and Lamy pens. And I’m so glad I have. Now I wonder why I stopped in the first place, and why it took so long to get back to them.
What is your “Fountain of Joy?”
Is there an activity, hobby or sport that you have left dormant because of your work, family or general life busyness?
Is your life more greyscale than 4k color?
If so, maybe this is the reminder you need to go back to that love that brought joy and a diversion from the drudgery of the daily grind.
Go Back to Move Forward
In the book of Revelation Jesus calls his church in Ephesus to return to their first love (Revelation 2:4). The once vibrant relationship with Jesus and others the Ephesians enjoyed eventually faded out. They simply existed rather than living life to the fullest. So Jesus called them back to himself.
A Kellogg’s Corn Flakes ad from years ago encouraged people to “taste them again for the first time.” Kellogg’s knew that many kids who grew up on a steady diet of their cereal had not eaten their brand in years. This ad was a reminder to check them out again.
Jesus makes the same offer to us.
There is no better time than the present to taste Jesus again for the first time. The Psalmist cries out “Taste and see the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
So, pick up and dust off whatever sport, hobby or activity you have neglected.
And don’t forget to include Jesus!
Call before you dig.
That’s what billboards, radio ads and even web banners shout out to prospective excavators. If you don’t, you may dig a deep hole of debt (because you’ll be on the hook to repair the damaged cables underground). Or someone else will dig a deeper hole for your electrocuted body. Either way, the message is simple; it’s not wise to dig a hole without knowing what you might run into.
A Near Miss
About a year ago I rented a massive tent for an event at our church. I realized too late that it had to be anchored into the ground by 16 spikes that were 3 feet long. I was sick. The event was just two days away, and it would be unlikely that I could get anyone to mark out the area in time. A part of me thought Just go for it! There’s nothing out there in the field. Thankfully the wise part of me spoke louder …except for a pipeline. Wisdom won out, and I made the First Call. They did the job in a hurry and marked out the area. Nothing was in our way. We were good to go. The spikes went down and the tent went up.
The Source of Wisdom
The Bible tells us “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking (James 1:5).” If we are honest, we need wisdom on a daily basis. We are faced with decisions personally and professionally that require wisdom. We could all use a bit of knowledge and good judgment to guide us. Any good leader knows that it’s a sign of strength to ask questions, know what you don’t know, and to reach out to more seasoned veterans when you aren’t sure of the next step.
For over 25 years I have been going to God as The Source of wisdom, for “Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment (Proverbs 9:10).” To fear the Lord is not to be afraid of the Lord, it is to give him reverence in our lives. I have been in the company of great men and women whom I look up to. But no one else deserves reverence like God himself.
So, if you are spending a lot of time scratching your head wondering what your next move might be, just ask. God will give you the wisdom you need. He wants to guide you and direct your life. He can be trusted. His nature and character are love, goodness, kindness, mercy and justice.
Reach out to the one who reaches out to you today with the offer of wisdom. It’s not a bother to him. And you will never be put on hold.
Don’t dig a hole for yourself. Make the First Call. Just ask.
In the last few months I’ve read two biographies of successful business leaders, Elon Musk of Tesla/Space X/Solar City and Phil Knight of Nike. Both books were inspirational in their own way, and gave me further insight into the essential elements that drive successful companies. Elon and Phil have different backgrounds and pursuits, but they have at least one thing in common: tenacity.
What is Tenacity?
Tenacity is the quality or ability to grip something firmly. It’s determination and persistence. Elon inspired me with the way he overcame technical problems with Space X rockets or testing issues with the latest Tesla model. Similarly, Phil Knight’s determination floored me. He met with his angry banker monthly to get the necessary cash to grow his dream. These guys refused to quit!
Along their path to success there were many naysayers, and even more reasons why they should have cashed out and done something easier than shooting for Mars or taking on the powerhouses of the shoe industry. But they refused to give up. Their vision and dream of what could be was far more powerful than the reality of what was in the moment. They woke early, stayed up late, listened to helpful advice and tuned out anything that would take them off course of realizing their dreams (read the books Elon Musk and Shoe Dog for examples of this).
Real Time Example
The perfect illustration for tenacity happened at the Super Bowl last month. By halftime it looked like the game was over. The Atlanta Falcons were celebrating, the New England Patriots began to look defeated and deflated (I couldn’t resist using that word!). But Tom Brady, the quarterback of the Patriots, refused to quit. He kept moving forward, challenging his teammates, believing they could make the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. I wrote them off (as did most of the viewing audience), but Tom was going to win or die trying.
And his tenacity paid off. The Patriots won. The comeback was complete. And everyone was shocked except Tom. He knew they could do it.
What’s Holding YOU back?
Whatever your obstacle is today, whatever you think is holding you back, it is time to power through. It is time to dig deep. Don’t run away and hide when the going gets tough. Don’t shut your laptop when you are stuck for words. Don’t mail it in and settled for ‘good enough’ when you get tired. Instead, remember why you wanted to do what you need to do. Think about the people you can influence and the way your life could change if you actually followed through on your plans.
So get to it. There is no greater joy that kicking fear in the mouth and finishing a project. Tenacity fuels our growth.