I’m getting my email to zero right now (a bit late in the day), and came across a great example of how productivity is not just about getting as many things done as quickly as you can, but generating ideas and even taking some potential rabbit trails.
So, here’s how I work. I’m going through my messages one by one, determining the next actions and what responses are needed to each. One of these emails is yesterday’s blog post by Seth Godin on a new marketing class he is offering at Skillshare.
So, what’s the next action on that email? Just read it, decide I don’t have time for the class, and move on? That would be the efficiency model of productivity, which I reject.
Instead, with this email I sat back and asked myself some questions and observations like these:
- What does Seth’s blog post here teach us about how we should craft and present ideas in general? Godin is clearly a master at this. A blog post from him announcing a new course he is offering is not just an opportunity to decide whether to take the course or not; it’s an opportunity to learn about communication.
- So in that vein, I notice that he talks about the course “changing the way you think about marketing.” Is that way of speaking just a way to get attention? Talk about change, so people will listen? Godin is a person of integrity; he speaks what he believes, rather than making things up just to get a response. Further, in my experience (confirmed more and more every day), things absolutely do need to be changed. This is actually the task of leadership: changing things. We live in a fallen world. So much is indeed sub-par and not helping people. To talk in terms of change is not just a way to “market” an idea. Things really do need to be changed. So I make a mental note that here is yet more confirmation that it is right to talk in terms of changing things, and that it is helpful to do so (the way Godin crafted his post certainly got me thinking in a constructive way).
- Godin links the wrong words in his post! You should never say “click here.” The words you link need to be information carrying. That is both more helpful and more effective. So, Godin is great, but not perfect (I’m sure he also has reasons for breaking this rule — but he’s wrong!).
So, though I am not going to enroll in his course, the value of this email from Godin’s blog is far beyond the fact that it notified me about the course. It helped build my thinking, and gave me an opportunity to think about how I do things and how I craft ideas.
That is a huge impact, and an impact that cannot be measured by the response rate to the actual post. That shows how productivity is about much more than tangible outcomes; intangibles (affecting how people think) are just as important — and, in fact, something that actually will result in tangible outcomes and great effectiveness down the road.
And this process also shows how productivity methods, like getting your email to zero every day, are not about rigid structure and just getting things off your list. Rather, they provide a framework in which exploration can happen. If we think of productivity as just getting things checked off our lists faster, we will miss the most important and enriching moments of life.
I’m looking forward to Voddie Baucham’s new book on the relationship of the story of Joseph to redemptive history.
The trailer does a great job of sparking your interest:
STOP using ["there's no way"] as an excuse. As believers, as followers of Jesus, if we’re not chasing after something that is so much bigger than we are, and there’s no way we could ever accomplish it without God, then we are playing it too safe.
Is there currently something you are working on, organizing, idea crafting that is so big that everyone around you says “There’s no way!!” If not, it’s time to think big. Get outside your comfort zone. Dream about accomplishing a project so out of your abilities that it keeps you up at night.
God calls us to think big. If we are only working on something that we can accomplish on our own, with our own strength, I’m not sure that’s good enough.
So what’s on your heart or stirring in you that you keep pushing back because it just doesn’t seem possible? Whatever it is, put it on the table. Stretch. Pursue it. “There’s no way” those around you will say. But there is a way. God can accomplish what seems impossible to us. With our sweat. And our work. Through His power.
There IS a way WE can do that……
I’ve been meaning to blog this for two years now. From Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs:
Even when he was barely conscious, his strong personality came through. At one point the pulmonologist tried to put a mask over his face when he was deeply sedated. Jobs ripped it off and mumbled that he hated the design and refused to wear it. Though barely able to speak, he ordered them to bring five different options for the mask and he would pick a design he liked. The doctors looked at Powell, puzzled. She was finally able to distract him so they could put on the mask.
He also hated the oxygen monitor they put on his finger. He told them it was ugly and too complex. He suggested ways it could be designed more simply. “He was very attuned to every nuance of the environment and objects around him, and that drained him,” Powell recalled.
That is absolutely hilarious. Here is Steve Jobs, barely conscience and virtually fighting for his life, and he asks the doctors to bring in five different options for the oxygen mask because he doesn’t like it’s design. Hilarious!
Joe Rigney, Assistant Professor of Theology and Worldview at Bethlehem College and Seminary, has just released a new book on what C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia have to teach us about Christian discipleship. It’s a very innovative and enlarging book, and Rigney is a great guide. It’s called Live Like A Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles.
Brandon Smith has a good interview with Rigney over at Gospel-Centered Discipleship, as does Trevin Wax over at his blog. Rigney is also doing a message on Lewis this weekend at the Desiring God national conference which, of course, is on C. S. Lewis.
Needless to say, this sounds like a great weekend to dive back into the world of Narnia. So, here’s one more resource for you: a while back, Andy Naselli compiled a list of Ten Narnia resources he found most helpful when he took his daughter through the books.
Gladwell’s answer to this question sums up his aim in the book:
What do you want people to take away from David and Goliath?
I want people to understand that much of what is beautiful and important in our world comes from adversity and struggle.
This is something we continually need to be reminded about. I am amazed by the militant commitment to mediocrity of so many people — including in the church. Brad Lomenick gives us a great exhortation to continually seek to be better than average.
As I blogged last week, Catalyst Atlanta is coming up October 2-4, 2013 in Atlanta, GA. 13,000 young leaders from across the United States and around the world will converge for one of the best leadership experiences around.
Some of the speakers this year I’m most looking forward to are John Piper, Andy Stanley, Lecrae, Malcolm Gladwell, and Reggie Joiner.
Today is the last day of special registration rate of $219 (which saves over $100). You can register by calling 888.334.6569 to speak with the Catalyst Concierge team, or online. Use the rate code BLOG or MP.
I’ll be blogging the conference, and it would be great to see you there!
It seems to me that we have, perhaps, inadvertently reversed the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus’ point in the parable is that our neighbor is anyone in need. In order to make this point clear, he tells the story of the Samaritan coming across a man who was beaten and robbed. Even though this man was culturally his enemy, he takes action and helps.
Jesus’ point is: don’t let yourself off the hook of the command to love your neighbor as yourself by limiting it only to a narrow group of people. Love even your enemies, do this sacrificially (as the Samaritan did), and be willing to risk (as it was a dangerous road).
I think precisely because of this parable, few people in the world who are familiar with the teaching of Jesus would be callous enough to walk by a person bleeding on the side of the road. Or, if they did, they would know it was deeply wrong (unlike the religious people in the parable, who apparently didn’t even get that).
But that’s only half the point. In fact, I would suggest if that’s all we get from the parable, we’ve totally missed the point — even if when presented with the exact circumstances of the parable, we would stop to help.
The reason is this: we don’t very often come across people who are bleeding on the side of the road. So how does the parable apply to us the rest of the time?
I think we’ve inadvertently taken the parable and restricted the meaning of our “neighbor” in the other direction, thus doing the very thing Jesus is forbidding. We’ve come to think that our neighbor is only a person in extreme need — the person bleeding on the side of the road.
But what about the person who is not bleeding on the side of the road, but has other, much smaller but still very real needs?
We tend to just pass on by. “He’s not my neighbor — my neighbor is the person bleeding on the side of the road.” And yet it never crosses our mind to say, “Hmm…; isn’t it strange that I’ve never actually come across such a person in my entire life?”
Jesus told this parable to teach us something that is to apply to us every single day of our lives. He gave an extreme example to counter the common notion of the day that limited the scope of who we are to love. But then we’ve strangely seized on the example he gave and limited the meaning of “neighbor” in an entirely different direction, to mean only those in extreme need. That was not Jesus point.
Overlooking seemingly “small,” everyday, and ordinary needs is also a great sin. Your neighbor is not just the person in extreme need, but the person right before you at work, in your neighborhood, in your community. Your client, business partner, employee, co-worker, person who comes off the street into your business asking for directions, or person who attends your church and has a concern. Anyone and everyone who has any need is your neighbor.
If you think you’ve got it together because you don’t pass by people who are beaten up on the side of the road, but overlook issues of everyday need in the people right before you, you are missing it.
And don’t we all need to hear this? I know I do.
So, let’s get with it. Let’s about the world with our eyes and ears open to seek out, identify, and meet all types of needs that the people have whom God brings across our paths. Let’s ditch this notion that our neighbor is only someone in extreme need. Let’s be proactive in meeting less extreme needs as well.
And, as we do that, then we will be truly obeying the point of the parable, even if we never literally come across someone beaten up and bleeding on the side of the road.
And, we just might come to see that this seemingly “small” needs aren’t quite so small after all.