In The Presence Of Genius

Several opportunities in which I have had the honor to participate this week have provided for an incredible week. First of all, I enjoyed learning from Brian Zehr who runs Intentional Impact and hails from Community Christian Church. Brian is coaching a group of about 15 of us pastors in the United Methodist tradition regarding the need for multiplying and reproducing ministries in the church. His leadership principles are invaluable to reaching and developing people in today’s culture. I also attended a conversation between Nido Qubein and Seth Godin at High Point University. To close the week, I was part of a men’s retreat in which 45 men were blessed by the teaching of Clayton King. It is a very difficult task to glean and adequately process all of these teachings in the same week.

I do not want to keep what I have learned capped inside my mind; which would be committing a major disservice to everyone I know. Instead, I want to formulate how to best apply and implement what I have learned to better serve my family, my congregation, and my community. To start this process, allow me to share the top three highlights from the genius I received being in the presence of one of our world’s top thinkers. I know that I will not get all of the facts correct, nor will I do the matter justice, but here we go.

First of all, Seth Godin explained that failure does not have to be expensive, but failure must be embarrassing. If you are not making big mistakes as you go, then you are not attempting anything worthwhile.

Secondly, connectors, guides, and “sherpas” create the greatest value. Seth used the example of Travelocity vs. American Airlines and the profit or loss experienced by each company. American Airlines actually provides the transportation but yet they lost money. Travelocity, however, is simply a connector of people to travel options and experienced an incredible year of stacking bread. (“Stacking bread” is a way of saying making money that I’ve picked up from some teenage inmates in the Bible study I teach at the prison and I think it sounds cool.) The point is that your work should be making connections and you will consequently increase your value. One thing I try to do as a pastor is connect: connect people to Jesus, connect the local church to its surrounding community, connect people to new ways of thinking, etc.

Finally, Seth explained that the only difference between you and Steve Jobs or you and Walt Disney or you and Rosa Parks is that these three historical figures did not allow their “lizard brain” to talk them out of moving forward with their ideas. The lizard brain is the prehistoric lump located at the bottom of our brain stem. This is what we have in common with dinosaurs and other simpler animals. Our lizard brain screams safety, security, and fights all risk taking. This makes sense if we are trying to avoid carnivores who are looking to devour us, but we’ve evolved just a bit since the creation of the earth. Rather than being talked out of taking a risk, trying something new, and being different, the people who do great things learn to ignore their lizard brain.

These concepts, along with the inspiration and principles from Brian and Clayton, could not have come at a better time for me. I am rededicating myself to the vision to which God has called me. If I fail, after all, it does not have to be expensive, just embarrassing. Then I’ll learn from the failure and get back up and go again.

1 thought on “In The Presence Of Genius

  1. Wow. Thanks for taking the time to write this Stephen. This is the power of social media. I had heard reference to “lizard brain” but had not had the time to explore what that meant, and right here, from a trusted source I get a great synopsis of the phrase and learn about how and why I need to find ways to quiet it down.

    Godin’s discussion about failure is an embarrassment, is really helpful too. Thanks so much sharing these concepts, Stephen.

    I’d love to hear more about the Bible study you are leading in the prison. That sounds pretty amazing.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up. I hope I’ll have a chance to hear Godin speak live sometime. Have you listened to this podcast with him and Krista Tippett? If not, I can’t recommend it enough:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s