The Promise Of A Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change makes my list of books read in 2017 for two specific reasons. First, it tells the story of Adam Braun, in his own words, of the start and development of Pencils of Promise. This book is worth the read for its inspirational and motivational story of establishing and developing a nonprofit (for-purpose) from nothing into a global something. Anyone wondering if it can be done needs to read this book. But the biggest add for me is the leadership principles smattered throughout this book. Each new chapter begins with a leadership mantra. Some of these mantras are helpful but I found the real gold in the principles found in the paragraphs of each chapter. Here are a few of the principles that stood out for me:
- Big dreams start with small unreasonable acts (page 75)
- Practice humility over hubris (page 85)
- The best presentations – the ones that inspire action – are those where the same journey is portrayed, except the audience is the focus. It’s not about the presenter, it’s about the chance that the audience has to become the hero by completing a well-defined task (page 136)
- Those I met defined themselves by what was on their mind not on their business card (page 145)
- For one day a week, it is important that you allow yourself to be a human being, not a human doing (page 146)
- But nothing is more potent or deceptive than the competing interests of another great opportunity. In those moments when priorities clash, always stay guided by your values, not your perceived necessities. Necessities exist in a state of mind that will not last, whereas values are transcendent and enduring (page 160)
- The single most wasted resource on earth if human intention. How many times have you wanted to do something but not acted right away and forgotten about it later? (page 172)
- The biggest opportunities for growth are not found in the midst of success, but in the methods through which we address failure (page 184)
- Make the little decisions with your head and the big ones with your heart (page 191)
- Treat your work like a business not a charity (page 197)
- The role of the founder should eventually be to listen to the echoes of his or her initial words, and then encourage and amplify the most genuine among those you hear (page 234)
His chapter Vulnerability is Vital is insightful to addressing the fears that most have with the direct ask in fundraising. Every church-planter should read this chapter.
It has been a long time since I ate at a Taco Bell. There was a day when it was my late night stop of choice but not anymore. But clearly it is still the choice of many and mostly because of its recent willingness to try new things. I don’t have a high need for change. I work with others that do have a high need for change. Even though that can create moments of tension we do share in a clear commitment and understanding that change is necessary as we pursue the mission that God has called us on to plant churches around the world.
Taco Bell has a similar perspective. Niccol the head of marketing at Taco Bell says, “If you have the belief that there’s still work to be done, then you’ll figure out how to break a little glass.” What I see at Taco Bell is a company that is trying new things and seeing if it works. Whether it is the creation of Beefy Frito Burritos or Dorito Locos Tacos, Taco Bell is looking for ways to break a little glass. Pastors need to learn how to break a little glass but not like a bull in a china shop.
As is the case at Taco Bell so should be the case in our churches. Innovation doesn’t rest with one person. The architecture of a culture of innovation may be a primary leader’s responsibility but innovation is a team thing. “From an innovation perspective, I’d love it if we had one person who just comes up with great ideas. But it doesn’t work that way,” says Matthews of Taco Bell. “The strategy is getting different people together, having food around, and having conversations.”
Sounds like a great idea!
I love to learn and some of my best learning over the years has come from what I would call my non-traditional resource base. My traditional resource base is church people writing about church things. As one of my prof’s used to say, “sometimes you just have to go to the symphony to solve a problem.” So when I was in the San Antonio airport this past weekend and saw that Fast Company just released it’s list of “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies,” I just had to have it. Learning 101, look for ideas everywhere that you can.
Church planting is about connecting with people and in our world that means having a strategy where you can be found. Social media is a big part of that. BuzzFeed changed their social media strategy in 2014. “Instead of trying to lure eyeballs to its own website, the way most publishers do, BuzzFeed would publish original text, images, and video directly to where its audience already spent its time, some 30 different global platforms . . . Rather than write one definitive article and publish it on every platform (the de facto standard in the media business), BuzzFeed would tailor content specifically for the network and audience where it’s being viewed.”
Organizations that need to be found should take notice. Pastors take notice. Don’t create a strategy that is always trying to get your prospective audience to come to you but go to your prospective audience with a tailored message.