Episode 7: Millenials, Marketing and Morality Feat. Skylar Chaput

Episode 7: Millenials, Marketing and Morality Feat. Skylar Chaput

I’m really excited about this months first episode featuring a co-host and a topic that is relevant to all!

Inspired by a recent read “Friction” by Rosenblum, we (my co-host and favorite Millenial-Skylar Chaput) take a look at the generations profound impact on the marketing and business practices.

It’s the contention of the book that-as the most researched and largest living generation-Millenials have had a profound influence on the way companies market themselves.

I take that premise one step further and suggest that there are broad sweeping economic and historical implications because not only has the generation forced ethics and social justice matters onto companies, but an entire generation is giving rise to the most moral but least spiritual people of all time.

I’m interested in asking the question: what impact might this have on the Church and American culture rit large!

Here are the respective links for listening:

MP3 file.

iTunes podcast app.

Do me a favor and rate, review and share this episode!

Application Question:

Are you attempting to reach the next generation why or why not? How might this value impact your investments (of all kinds: time, talent and treasure)?

References from today’s show:

Vision Alone is not Vision At All

Vision Alone is not Vision At All

This last month that was one of my greatest learnings…

You can have literally the best idea in the whole world, you can communicate it with all the style and grace imaginable, but if you have not people, you have nothing.

I’ve said it to a couple different groups of people now-the staff team I’m a part of, a group of volunteers during a training event and then I think I may have given the same speel to the entire church that we lead but what I’m learning last month, this week, this moment is:

You can have the most tremendous vision in the world, but if people aren’t invited along, have as much buy-in as you do and you are all moving together, then you will simply be alone on an island called vision. And that’s not where any of us want to be as leaders.

Most of what I’m talking about has to do with leading change, by the way. And now that I’m finally reading John Kotter’s seminal work by the same name-things are beginning to come into even greater focus.

The Kotter model has to do with an 8-step process for leading change and one of the “unskippable” early steps is creating a coalition for change… WITH at least some people who have power.

Before finally stealing this book from another pastor, I had been listening to an Andy Stanley podcast wherein he was interviewing the former Home Depot CEO, Frank Blake.

Blake gives yet another tremendous model, equation rather, that supports the same principle; he says:

i X a = e. OR

IDEA times ACCEPTANCE equals EFFECTIVNESS.

In other words, we as leaders often get trapped in our little vision caves where we fully orb this new idea, change effort or cultural direction and it is birthed in a vacuum of 1.

We then run out and tell the world about it, praying for a mutual sense of excitement, and yet how could they-they had no hand in the evolution of this idea?

Blake suggests getting the idea to 80% and then inviting the “coalition” or the people or the team or the influencers in and together forging the last 20%. In this way we will be working toward far greater impact and effectiveness.

So I have this book, I have my podcast and yet I have another source of input waking me up to this principle over the last few weeks.

A friend, and fellow leader at our organization, came along and said, ‘Ben I think you just need to over-communicate in this season of change.’

He went on saying, ‘people here have experienced haphazard and chaotic change-making processes that leave people somewhat sensitive to any sort of change.’

This, on top of the fact that most of the known world is change resistant already! (Despite the classic saying that change is perhaps the only constant in life!).

In your leadership wherever you are-family, church, business-learn from these greats and from my mistakes and:

1. Build a coalition for change (that includes at least some people with real power)

 

2. Work toward more acceptance by inviting people into the creative processes earlier

 

3. Over-communicate. I’ll use a recent quote a heard (Craig Groeschel via Thom Rainer from Groeschel’s latest podcast post on developing leaders):

As people are learning, they are forgetting.

This is especially true within the context of fresh vision and leading change, because we already have a natural sense of resistance.

I love and appreciate you all.

If you haven’t seen my last post, please look at it and even scan to the end: I am requesting some census data on the book you would like to read next! DO IT AND HELP A BROTHER OUT!

Anger and The Filling Of the Holy Spirit

Anger and The Filling Of the Holy Spirit

I struggle with anger.

I have, I wonder sometimes, replaced one addiction for another. They say (recovery and rehab “experts”) that’s what happens anyway… you give up on one thing and you replace it with another intoxicating habit.

I gave up booze 3 years ago this August. And while I’m not convinced that I am an alcoholic (I’ve probably been drunk 2 or 3 times in my life), I do believe that I might be a user.

So I’ve given up alcohol and before that it was probably pornography, but what about today? Am I an anger addict? Do I need anger management?

Don’t get me wrong-I don’t run around punching holes in walls or throwing things (at least when people are looking or indoors), smashing phones, getting physical with people… I’m not verbally abusive. But I do get temperamental, impatient, aggressive, angry in a way when it comes to my kids in particular (having 5 under 5 might have been a little ambitious after all).

So maybe I’m my biggest critic… maybe I’m not an anger junky… but I struggle and I fall short… tremendously short sometimes. I feel weak in this area, incapable, insufficient… sometimes at a total and complete loss of how to get better.

And yet somehow, someway I’m meant to get in front of a bunch of people this weekend and preach on the following subject:

how the filling of the Holy Spirit makes you live an altogether different life. 

Basically it’s like this: on our own-our own power, will, ability, effort we will always and forever fall hopelessly short of living any kind of good, true or just life.

But the premise, LITERALLY OF THE WHOLE NEW TESTAMENT, is that though we can’t on our own, with the Holy Spirit (i.e. The power of the living God inside ourselves) we can.

See this is where it gets interesting. I am a fallen and broken man. And I’m supposed to get up in front of people and explain the truths about how the beginning of God’s power, through the Holy Spirit, meets precisely at our end.

Our end is where He’s beginning.

That’s actually the meaning of the verse, “my power is made perfect in your weakness”  (2 Corinthians 12:9) it means that his strength, his power, his ability is made complete, it comes to a whole when we can no longer ‘keep it together, get it going, try our best’

Well here is what, in part, I have decided to share with them.

I learned about what is really the word with a million meanings; it’s the Greek word used in Ephesians 5 for Paul’s instruction to be “filled with the Spirit.”

He’s just finished outlining all these behaviors and lifestyle choices (of his time-yes indeed still prevalent today) like greed and slanderous talk, promiscuous sex and getting wasted at parties (literally that’s what he says-told you not much has changed).

He says the old is gone (he’s talking to a whole bunch of folks who are saying yes to the Jesus way for the first time-no Judaism as a starting place-just from pagan to follower “overnight”) and with the new you can expect to look, smell, think differently.

And he says this can come only by means of the Holy Spirit. He, in fact, states it as a command, “be FILLED with the Holy Spirit.”

So what of this Greek word?

It’s the word plēroō

I’ll briefly unpack at least 3 different meanings of just his one word.

The first is like the filling of a sail thereby carrying the ship along. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit then and only then will we witness some movement.

That’s what we are after isn’t it? Enough of this definition of insanity! Enough of this stagnancy! Let us move from this place!

The second is like the drenching of a preserved meat with salt. It is a level of saturation that one just cannot shake. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit such that it permeates our every breath then and only then will we witness a different life.

A salty life, a life of flavor and preservation, a legacy that lasts… that’s what we’re after isn’t it?

The third meaning is about control. I have no metaphor to describe this last aspect but it is very simple:

You will produce that which consumes you. What you are filled with-that thing will control you.

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will be controlled by the Holy Spirit and my oh my what a thing will that be to behold…

That’s what I want. That’s what I want for me, for my family, for my faith community, for the worldwide body of believers.

That’s all I have for you this week. Though you will see that I have attached the 12 steps below. I just always come back to these. Because they are the mental/emotional prescription or doorway to work in conjunction with the spiritual one I’ve given above.

I’ve said it before but for those who want to work on whatever issue they battle in their life-social, emotional, chemical-it doesn’t matter; these steps if taken seriously, I think could usher in serious levels of health that you never thought imaginable.


CELEBRATE RECOVERY 12 STEPS AND BIBLICAL COMPARISONS

1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18 NIV

2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 NIV

3. We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1 NIV

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40 NIV

5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16a NIV

6 We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10 NIV

7 We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV

8 We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 NIV

9 We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24 NIV

10 We continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12

11 We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and power to carry that out.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16a NIV

12 Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore them gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1 NIV

 

The Missing Ingredient (Leading Change)

The Missing Ingredient (Leading Change)

I’m a new part of a church organization that is in the midst of finding itself. It is what a mentor called an identity discovery phase.

Another way of describing this unique place and process is leading change. Though I have not read John Kotter’s preeminent 1995 book by the same name, I have read the executive summaries and I have participated in models that mirror his principles and prescriptions.

The ethos, and indeed mandate, of leading change is critical for all leaders and organizations (who are striving for any degree of health or impact in the world, that is.)

A strong leader once told me that great organizations should experience change every 8 months (just to keep up with culture, technology, economy, etc etc) and that made sense to me.

The problem, of course, is that many of us don’t like change and then for the rest of us who are open to change it’s a painfully slow and difficult process.


Let’s handle those 2 obstacles right off the bat:

1. For those who are change averse: you maintain an extreme sense of irony.

At a certain point you must admit that very world around you is constantly changing; and not just a macro level either.

So you can go on “not liking” change all day long and even keep screaming it from a mountain top if you like, but with that attitude and posture you will always being sitting in immediate juxtaposition with the natural world around you.

2. For those who believe it’s just too hard or too late to change: you have chosen the poorest excuse.

If people succumbed to “it’s too hard” mentality we would not have a single lick of innovation from the last century (let alone since the beginning of time). What if Lincoln would have said, ‘reconciliation is too hard’… if Ford had said, ‘building a “car” is just too complex’… if MLK had said, ‘this thing will never change.’ I think you get my point.

To cease tackling a thing because it is too hard is to cease doing the very central thing we are called to do: live well.


The fact of the matter is: all organizations and systems (even the family system!) are in need of change.

How do I know?

Because all organizations experience stuckness.

In their good intentioned pursuit to diversify, spread out the eggs, reach into new markets, industries or niches organizations get stuck for so many reasons-most of which we are not here to discuss today.

I think one of the most important reasons people and organizations get stuck is this:

a loss of focus.

On the why, the win, the action and execution.

You can imagine the snowball effect above, but lets take a closer look at the importance of each…

1. The why: the mission; the vision; the values…

If you don’t have them, if you don’t hold tightly to them, if you don’t have them at the top of your performance dashboard then what’s it really all for anyway-it’s anyone’s guess and it’s up for grabs and when its up for grabs people will create their own why.

2. The win: how we know what success looks like…

First of all have you defined it? Second of all, have you defined it BEFORE you execute (run the event, program, marketing campaign). Most people and organizations operate in the opposite order, ‘lets just do it and see what happens.’

3. The what: this constitutes the bulk of your working hours…

What kind of action are you taking? Is it the right action at the right time? And is it focused action? If you’ve set a target (the why and the win) then you should be able to filter every working hour through those first two things. When we fail to do this, we are now facing a stewardship (management) issue (i.e. How will we be judged by the way we invested every waking hour of our lives?)

4. The execution: the final delivery.

If you are a manager or leader of people and you can’t account for why your staff, team, people aren’t producing better results than you need to seriously evaluate the above three. Odds are: all this lack of focus in the why, the win and the what are leading to a high level of stuckness at the execution level.


Committing to Change…

We have only to first admit that we are stuck.

Therein lies the first principle from Kotter’s work: change will be most successful when the greater percentage of your leaders carry a mutual sense of urgency around change.

It was not an intentional plan of mine, I have to admins, coming into my new organization but I found myself saying the same thing over and over again to key staff and volunteers.

In my envisioning to people about this new season at the church, with just as many competing ideas, programs, initiatives as the marketplace, I found myself encouraging our team that it may be time to say a healthy “no” to the options and ideas out there.

…to forgo doing several things very half-heartedly and inefficiently and, in the end, poorly. And instead to focus on one thing, and here’s the mantra:

We are committing to do a very few things, very well…

As to what those things are-that’s our plan and our issues. You probably just need to work your plan. But make sure people understand the why, the win and the what. Whether its your family or your startup, hold fast to these things and you will not only bring about focus, you will have a great shot at bringing about change.

Radical Love is a Lonely Business 

Radical Love is a Lonely Business 

Have you ever felt at odds with the world?

Like you were convinced that your chosen path or idea was the one, but support, encouragement and consensus were all so lacking?

I found this picture for today’s post and thought it was just perfect on a couple different levels for conveying the ethos of my message.

First the little girl’s wonder woman costume… In most all superhero stories there is a moment of isolation for them. They are naturally at odds with the world because they are not natural themselves.

The super hero is a foreigner-not endemic to the neighborhood, community or species. So of course their chosen path, their decided way will forever be at odds with those around them… even whilst saving lives and restoring hope, this isolation remains.

And so the little girl sits alone, almost forgotten, relegated to the curbside enjoyment of her dairy confection. Not that the little warrior princess is concerned for calories yet, she seems as if to say, “screw you guys then, I’ll sit here and eat my ice cream bar.”

My wife and I have found a similar truth to hold steady in our lives, in our own pursuit of putting love in action. Our family, truly pushed by my wife’s vision and hope, has been a part of a foster adoption journey for some years now (if you include the time it took us to get licensed and approved.)

Though we had always talked about adoption when we were early dating and even just after getting married, it was a whole different pivot point after having had a few biological kids already. Somehow, some way we managed to get our first placement two summers ago, and with no guarantees at any point, the placement of Selah became official when she was adopted this last December.

You might say: how could anyone have a bad thing to say about that?

But folks will oppose any manner of good thing. Especially if it is other-worldly.

You see the opposition for us in the decision to take on another baby from the county, for example, carries with it a more subtle variety than what some other love pioneers and revolutionaries might receive. People just kind of pragmatically question and doubt and probe… and they often incredulously ask the direct question “foster-adoption, are you sure?!” While there are a ton of outright haters, I will tell you: the share of cheerleaders, champions and voices of encouragement are few and far between.

You can imagine the responses when we decided to say yes to another fost/adopt placement less than a month from when our previous baby was adopted, bringing the grand total of (potential) Applebee children to 5-what is a SHOCKING and, for some, HORRIFYING number to think about by today’s “standards” (whatever that means).

Honestly once again the responses are just kind of dull. If people-our family or friends-have concerns they are largely keeping silent about it.

It’s not as if we are counting on people holding a parade and constantly praising our heroism, but here is just one more example of how our chosen path is just… different, different in the way it is received and understood… definitely different in the way that it is valued.

About two weeks ago Rylee (my wife) got the call for this baby and then drove out to the hospital and picked him up. That afternoon a 3-day old baby boy was added to our family. We picked up a baby. We just went and drove and got a baby. Are you picking up what I’m putting down?

So okay, yes, foster adoption placements like these are probably one of the most hilariously unnatural things around. One moment you got 4 kids and then the next you got 5 and without all the build up of a labor and delivery… and without the pregnancy announcement, without the gender reveal (party, nowadays), without the baby shower, without all the shopping, without all the fanfare, definitely without the maternity/paternity leave.

So I’ll confess, as a result of the overall lack of understanding and value, we are left feeling a little alone, a little isolated… like the little girl and her ice cream bar.

And while it’s not that people try to murder us, imprison us or send us back to krypton, there are days were the lack of support and encouragement remind us of a couple very key principles:

That we are never alone when we are holding fast to God-breathed vision.

That we are never closer to God then when we obediently follow his will.

That we are never living, loving, acting for an audience greater than 1.

That saying yes to giving life, hope and love is a defiant business, but get used to it. For it puts the grandest smile of all on your Father’s face.

If you’ve ever felt this way about any act of love or hope that you’ve taken then rest assured you are in good company. Perhaps the best of company.

Assemble any list you like of pioneers and iconoclasts: the Wilberforce’s, the Bonhoeffer’s, the Rosa Park’s, the Martin Luther’s, the Jesus Christ’s of Nazareth… make the list you want so long as they went against the grain in the name of love.

And I cannot help but leave you with a biblical truth here. Because of course if Christ was going to call you to this work of love he was surely going to outline some words of expectation and encouragement. Here is what Jesus said:

22 What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. 23 When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way. -Luke 6

So what’s your call to action that you’ve been putting off? What’s the God-sized vision that you’ve been called to that has been minimized by the voices of the haters? Or what’s your list of love pioneers and hope revolutionaries?

What I Would Do If I Was Outgoing Barack Obama

What I Would Do If I Was Outgoing Barack Obama

Have you ever felt like you wanted to start something that matters?

Maybe you saw a need, witnessed a problem, realized a pattern and you were filled with some insane amounts of zeal like you would almost march right out and do something about it…?

I’m talking about fighting for a cause here. I’m talking about innovating solutions. I’m talking about creating change and magnifying impact… turning the ship around.

This has happened for me in the last 10 years more times than I can count. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything about it though…

First it was a website about fostering community for Millenials called “our generation”… that never happened.

Then, when that picture of the Syrian toddler dead on a mediterranean beach started circulating last year, it was an online petition to lobby the US government to do more-maybe send an aircraft carrier to the region for more humanitarian aid-nothing ever materialized there.

Most recently, while watching a kids animated film about storks realizing their true calling of delivering babies again, I thought to myself: I should one day create a global startup that rivals the current national and international adoption agencies…

More than anything I guess I’m just learning something pretty interesting about myself. But I’ll come back to that in a minute.

Now I want to talk about the outgoing president.

Last week I read two different news articles.

The first one was very stirring and motivating and I found myself yet again in one of those moments… as if to say: “what if we could do something about this…?!”

It was about inner city Chicago and where those community members are at after 15 years and over 8,000 deaths later.

It’s here for your viewing.

You see that’s how my brain works… I think: “maybe a privileged white boy from Southern California could have any degree of impact or influence whatsoever on a place 2,000 miles away that is riddled with a historical legacy of joblessness, drugs, crime, guns, police distrust, oh and a city plan engineered for segregation”

I just can’t help it.

Then I read another article over the weekend that, like so many others during this political season, speculated what Obama would get up to after he leaves the White House-being as young and healthy as he is…

The article really only does this for the first half and then addresses the president’s legacy on immigration the second half, but you can read it here.

I read THAT article and then all the sudden it hit me. I shouldn’t be the one to get involved in Chicago… HE would be perfect though!

You know… all that power and influence and to use every drop of it in turning those neighborhoods around, healing those communities, reconciling gangs and victims… or at the very least, managing to spare more 12-year olds from being gunned down while sitting on their front porch…

Look I’ve even come up with a 5-point plan for the president:

  1. Setup an “E-Z Up” kiosk right on the corner of one of the most notorious streets, sit at a table and take feedback-talk to the community. (He can work on his book during the down times).
  2. Get meetings with the most notorious gang leaders and drug lords-literally sit down with them for coffee and get them on board.
  3. Recruit all his old private sector business contacts-call in every single favor they ever owed him to start businesses of every kind so that young men can work legit jobs
  4. Anything that is built, developed or renovated would be with the hands and feet of the community members themselves (in community renovation projects, ownership is always paramount-if they built it, they’ll ensure it’s legacy.)
  5. Then, finally, partner with police to literally start over from scratch.

He could do all of this completely position-less. Doesn’t have to run for mayor or over take the ever-changing police chief there either.

But you see that’s all well and good for him and I may very well write the president a letter suggesting the implementation of this plan effective feb 1st.

But what’s it got to do with me?

See that was my critical turning point… if ever you find yourself saying, “if I was him, I would…” then the very short response must be: you can.

You see IF… YOU SEE IF… too many if ands or buts just might render a man useless and legacy-less. Don’t get lost in the land of “if.”

So here’s the 5-point plan I recommend for me, and for you:

1. Start from where you are

Do you know how often it is that I probably underestimate my current position, power and influence. I’m wondering how many of you do the same…? We all have an audience. Whether it’s our family, our work or our friends: our words are big in someone’s ears. Now how can we leverage that for all it’s worth?

2. Consider your influence and network for leveraging

I once read in a book that each one of us is 3 people away from reaching our entire city. And that was written BEFORE the proliferation of social media! I mean what if we truly went for broke on this…? And when I say that I mean “socially broke”… like reputation bankrupt-that we didn’t care how we looked or how many people unfollowed us, because for a time we were willing to do whatever it takes to turn the ship around.

3. Gather survey data

I’ve shared this before, but I work for a church. The man who started that church nearly 30 years ago literally set up a table outside local grocery stores and asked every single person 2 questions: “do you attend a local church?” (and if the answer was “yes” he said, “great have a nice day!”) If the answer was “no” he would ask them what it would take for them to attend.

Nearly 30 years later the church is in an exhaustive and groundbreaking review of all our strategies and processes currently used to reach people. What did nearly every single team (involved in the review process) come up with for today’s solutions in reaching folks? “Hey maybe we should survey some people?!”

Look, the principle is real straight forward: when you’re stuck in a rut and you wanna affect change you gotta make appeals for fresh vision.

4. Build new relationships above all

One of my most fundamental leadership learnings from 2016  was the value of sitting across the table from someone. Around the church we merely call them ‘coffee dates.’ We, all staff, are strongly urged to keep a healthy flow of meetings with people (hah, imagine that-a church that’s in the “people business”)… newcomers to the church, prospective volunteers, current inner-core leaders.

Fewer things have served as a greater platform for leadership maturity than sitting across the table from someone-building trust through simply knowing one another personally and elucidating character growth opportunities by listening to challenges and struggles.

This sort of interpersonal relationship building forges bonds, recreates communities and cements legacies.

5. Make sure to take someone with you

Finally, and this is no news here, but, as leaders: who we are and what we have is worth multiplying. There’s always someone who can learn and grow by watching you lead. Keep an eye out for who that is… could be someone who is already “just there” or could be someone you must intentionally invite along. Whatever the case, we are losing the art of apprenticing others and, if we aren’t careful, we’ll lose it all together.

What cause are you dragging your feet on getting mobilized about? What change do you see needs to be affected and what is one simple thing you can do to turn the ship one minor degree?

Reps…

Reps…

It’s funny how we hunger and strive and long for a change in our lives. Whether it’s behaviors or attitudes or habits (breaking old ones or forming new ones), we can want or desire these things to take place, to see outcomes and results but what are we REALLY willing to begin DOING in order to witness some of those changes…???

After pondering this question for weeks now, I’ve concluded it’s all about getting some reps (as in repetitions, as in practice, as in doing something over and over repeatedly with methodical intentionality).

And here’s my thesis: it’s all about the contagious nature of that first step. That’s what I’m arguing. In the sea of new years resolution (goals, habits, disciplines) posts, this is where I’m staking my claim. 

My argument within this spectrum of conversation is this: to excel in something (or to outright change wrong behavior) you have to sample something first and then repeatedly after that and you WILL experience growth. 

In other words, and at the expense of sounding completely unoriginal, you have to begin practicing. And my argument is that once you do finally begin, once you try this different or new way of doing something, you will grow that aptitude, that competence, that ability or muscle. 

Here’s a short list of the things in my life I’d like to change, stop, or affect in some way:

  • Language… my words. Whether it be course language-cussing, innuendo (jokes) or even speaking more slowly
  • Anger… my temper. I’d like to get down on one knee and whisper at eye level with my toddlers rather than raise my voice, kicking and screaming in my own way (a literal adult tantrum if you think about it)
  • I’d also like to run a marathon, by the way, and as it turns out I’m signed up to do just that in about 4 months!
  • I’d like to practice more memorization (the Bible, poetry, public speaking)
  • I’d like to master a second language
  • And I’d like to learn how to use my voice (i.e. voice lessons for proper speaking and singing.)

And I’ve read blogs and I’ve researched and I’ve prayed and I’ve tried the little tricks and ticks (like wearing a rubber band and smacking it against your wrist when you cuss) and I think they’re really just gimmicks.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only real way to see progress is to get reps… TO PRACTICE!

I’ll give you two of the most immediate analogies that I see often: health and spirituality. 

The health one is easy: people want to look a certain way, feel a certain way or perform a certain way, but they prefer waking up one day and just arriving at that place. That is, unfortunately, not the world we live in. 

The thing with faith is just as unlikely. People claim, ‘I want a strong, confident faith and/or relationship with God’ but whether they are willing to commit to certain practices to get there is less certain. You don’t just wake up a fully formed foot soldier for Jesus. You intentionally commit yourself to the personal practices of prayer, scripture reading, meditation, acts of service, the list goes on and on. 

We are not magically transported to outcomes, we cannot skip steps.

What I do recommend we commit ourselves to is this though:

  • Start now
  • Start small
  • Start strategic

As you can see from my list above, this whole thing goes WAYYY beyond the basic diet and fitness realm. Getting reps is about every single little hope, goal or increment of change we would like to see in our lives. From augmenting old behavior to creating a completely new skill. The most obvious wisdom is that we merely have to start somewhere and begin to methodically practice.

So actually, more helpful than state the obvious, maybe we should talk about why we don’t just up and start practicing something one day.

Maybe we need to talk about the roadblocks of these dreams becoming realities.

One of my biggest influences within this conversation is James Clear, check out his website, newsletter and this post for some of his best notes on roadblocks.

But here are some of the major themes that I’ve read from him and others on roadblocks and goal failures:

  • no accountability
  • no readjustments/course-corrections
  • no connection to lifestyle change (e.g. goal: to run a marathon VS. goal: to build the lifelong habit of physical exercise)
  • not starting small enough
  • no plan, system or strategy
  • not enjoyable

This short list LITERALLY SUMS UP THE MAJORITY OF REASONS WHY WE FAIL. I would be willing to bet that we are within 99% of the most common denominators for us all.

This list sums up why we fail. But who has the answer on why we don’t start? That’s what I’m pushing in this article. I firmly believe that for something new to be formed inside you, it requires getting reps. So my one big idea is to get more reps this year and here’s how:

Start Now

It’s so basic but bears repeating: you cannot take on something new if you never start. I literally cannot emphasize this first, most basic, step enough. It’s like taking a food sample at the market-how can you know you like something, something sits well with you, something can grow on you until you try it. JUST TRY IT OUT! 

When you go once, that first step will be a contagious seed for trying more, going again, doing it right over and over again.

Start Small

You can see from the roadblocks list that this is one of the biggest inroads for failure, but when you start, it has to be bite sized pieces. I’m talking like:
Day one: put running shoes on and walk outside.
Day two: walk to the end of the street.
Day three: jog around the block.

One of my absolute all-time favorite idioms is K.I.S.S. (keep it stupid simple). It applies in so many areas of life and organizations and it applies here. If you want to see outcomes, keep it simple. 

Start Strategic

You gotta keep it simple but you also gotta keep it consistent. That’s where strategy or systems comes into place. 

This is where the James Clear stuff becomes so handy because he’s a big “systems” fan (I know, you’re not-that’s okay! It’s not a dirty word, trust me!). What he means by it is that you must forego goals for systems because goals are short-term and limit happiness whereas systems are lifelong and actually produce results. 

Do you have an attitude or behavior in which you’d like to see major change?

Do you have new habits or aspirations for adding to your repertoire? What are they and what are you willing to do, TODAY, to see some movement?

What have you seen work in forming new habits (or breaking old ones)?