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.