[Warning: If you are interested in a calm, comfortable life, this blog will be counterproductive for you.]

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Power Of Pairs

Some believe creating great ideas, from science to art, is the work of a lone genius. Others argue that greatness emerges from a network, an environment that stimulates brilliance. (It's the ongoing nature vs. nurture argument.) But I recently read a book that says when you look closer, you find great work is the result of pairs.

There have been famous pairs, like Jobs and Wozniak founding Apple and Lennon and McCartney at the heart of the Beatles. But many of the great creators of history were part of an unrecognized pair. Van Gogh's brother did far more than send him money. He theorized and empathized day after day. They were roommates for a time and then constant companions for even more. Van Gogh's mental breakdown happened after his brother moved away and stopped playing his part in their pair. Picasso was only able to paint with the intense help provided by his live in mistress of many decades. She didn't just set up the studio and make the food, she helped him get through his near daily depression (the stories told of this by his friends are quite dramatic) and actually get into the studio to paint.

At the heart of greatness is two working as one.

My own life is a small-scale example to how powerful a partnership can become, including a friend who has partnered with me on leadership projects for years and another who is partnering with me to create a board game.

I do need to let you know that halfway through the book the author starts rambling, speculating on the nature of creativity and life philosophy. And by the end, when discussing pairs breaking up, he merely tells the stories of pairs who broke apart, offering no insights or framework to understand why or how to prevent it. If he had finished at the same level he started at, it would have been one the best books of the year for me. As it is, it's still worth reading.

And whatever the quality of the book, I'm convinced that finding a partner who can co-create with you might be the key to creating something great.

Have you ever experienced a true partner in creation? I have and it permanently changed my life.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Chase A Great Idea With All You Have And You Might Miss Greatness

The popular story told today about innovation stars a genius (and the college roommate) who comes up with the next big idea. They work on it until it's perfect--in their garage, of course--and then launch their great idea to the world, achieving success.

But the real story of innovation isn't quite so simple. Recently, I got to spend some time with Frans Johanson, author of The Medici Effect and The Click Moment. Here's what I learned from him about innovation:

Goals get you moving in a particular direction efficiently. They're great for getting you to take action. So it's really good to have an idea, set a goal, and get started.

But goals should be held lightly. Many of the best innovations emerged as surprises on the way to somewhere else. You have to be both curious enough and humble enough to leave the strategic path you mapped out. You have to be willing to pivot.

Successful innovators don't have one big idea. They initiate far more projects than others. Many of those ideas don't go anywhere. But they learn a lot and keep trying things. Over time, a few of their ideas take off.

They key to being able to activate lots of ideas is to take the smallest executable step possible. Don't spend all your resources reaching for your first big idea. Take the smallest executable step that allows you to test your idea. Pause and learn. Then decide what your next step should be.

One small step at a time, learning at every single step, changing your idea many times...you too can be like the great innovators of our time. And, like them, maybe one of your ideas will take off!

Monday, February 9, 2015

How to Grow Your Character by Running A Race

I just signed up for the Savage Race. It's one of those ridiculous mud runs with obstacles. Yes, I know, I'm crazy. :) If anyone wants to run with me in race on April 18th, let me know. I'd love for you to join our team.

The Savage Race isn't for everyone. My wife isn't running because I married a wise woman. (One of us needed to have some caution.) However, while the Savage Race may or may not be your idea of a good experience, I think all Christians should consider signing up for an endurance event at least once in their life--maybe several times. If not a mud run, then a 1/2 marathon or long distance cycling event or any of the many other options.

I know, that's a pretty bold statement--and I'm pretty cautious about making "everyone should" statements. And there are always situations where this won't be true. For example, anyone with a physical disability probably doesn't need extra training in endurance. They could probably teach the rest of us all about endurance. But for those with don't deal with something like that day after day, training for and completing an endurance event might be one of the best ways to grow as a Christian.

Let me be very clear, I'm not suggesting this for the physical benefits. Sure, it will be good for your body to do long runs or rides. But the mental and emotional work required to complete a long, grueling experience is far more valuable--and longer lasting--than a better body.

Keep in mind that I've never enjoyed distance exercise. I always chose sprints or sports (when I bothered to exercise). I'm saying this as someone who is doing what is unnatural me--and growing tremendously because of it.

As you train for the endurance event, each exercise session gives you practice choosing to do uncomfortable things in hopes of a long-term reward. Each day your sore muscles complain, but you exercise anyway, strengthens your ability to make difficult choices in other areas of your life.

See, at the heart of Christian maturity is perseverance. If you want to be more godly, improve your ability to endure.

Hebrews 12.1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

James 1.2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Romans 5.3-4
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

There are a lot of verses like this, but I think you get the point.

Endurance training for you body can improve your emotional endurance, too. You don't have to wait around for real life troubles to practice perseverance. You can grow that aspect of your character on purpose. You can increase your endurance so you're ready when a hard relationship moment happens. Besides, having more physical energy makes all this easier, too!

What is your way of increasing your endurance ability this year? If you don't have one planned yet, maybe you should come run with me! :) But whatever you do, don't just sit around and wait for endurance to come to you--go get it.

Monday, February 2, 2015

How Did Tim Reach His Dream?

What's holding you back from chasing your dream? Whatever it is, I'm pretty sure you have more options than Tim Harris. But he still tried--and achieved it. See if you can spot the key to his success in this 3 min video.

Did you notice what the key to his success was? I think it was the people who believe in him. His friends and family did more than just encourage him (though encouragement is powerful). They partnered with him to live his dreams--spending time and money helping him get there.

It became their dream, too.

Who are your dream-partners? Who can you be a dream-partner to? Maybe the crucial piece you're missing is a partner (or an entire team of them).