Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Skin in the game?

Michael Hyatt's latest blog post has me thinking this morning. Take a few minutes and read his story about taking personal risks.

Hyatt is exceptionally good at putting me back on my heels and making me reconsider some of my basic assumptions. This morning I'm asking, "What's at stake personally for me?" So I'm looking at my work, especially, since I just arrived in my office and read Hyatt's post while I was getting my desk arranged for the day. I am thinking about a few current projects:
  • Alpha launches this Saturday with somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 guests. (There's still room if you want to come!) I met yesterday with our Alpha co-coordinators, and we talked through guests and potential guests, volunteers, group leaders, and schedules. There's always a flurry of details and activity with the launch of a new Alpha course, and this one is no exception. I'll need to pull out notes this week and review my talk for Saturday evening, and spend some time making sure all my ducks are in a row. I'm excited -- we haven't run a full-sized Alpha since 2009, when I ended up in the hospital during the launch and our Alpha leaders did such an amazing job carrying the course through.
  • Our Philippines team has a meeting tonight to plan for our trip. Currently the countdown to leaving for the Philippines seems to be ticking WAY fast. The recent earthquake in the Philippines struck very near the area we'll be visiting, so that adds to our list of prayer concerns. Last we heard there were twelve dead and 40 missing in this earthquake. There were tsunami warnings out but I never heard of any damage from the sea. I'm also excited because Alpha Philippines (the organization affiliated with Alpha International) is just a fledgling effort right now, and I just heard that the Philippines national coordinator for Alpha wants to attend our seminars. We continue to raise funds and we need to get our tickets purchased in the next few days.
  • Monday evening Pastors Paul & Sonja and I led the first of two training sessions for our potential pastorate leaders. As regular readers know, I am so excited about this pastorates movement and how Central is grabbing hold of it. I have been yearning and praying and pushing for this since 2006, and as I look back before that, God has laid the foundations for this push in my life back to my earliest days. So Monday was full of last minute details of planning and praying for the training, final edits and printing the curriculum I've been writing since early December, and more.
  • Yesterday I bought plane tickets for my trip to the Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute, where I'll be teaching for a week. This will be my third year teaching at CLBI, and I love it. It's a small school -- about 80 students -- focused like a laser on helping young people commit themselves to following Jesus. I need to start spending time with their student directory, praying for the different students and getting to know faces and names. I need to pull out the material I'll be teaching, too, and revise and refresh the lesson plans so I'm not trying to teach last year's stale material.
  • I need to figure out a few details for the World Religions class I'm teaching for high school students in our local homeschool partnership. My daughters have been out of that group for a few years now, but it's still delightful to be back with those families and students. I love teaching this World Religions class, but it can be a challenge to help students see beyond their own narrow slice of Christianity to a broader world of beliefs and practices. They'll be interacting with people of other faiths -- not to mention other brands of Christianity -- for the rest of their lives. I seriously believe this class can be amazing preparation for them as they move out into the world.
So that's a sample of what's on my mind as I read Hyatt's blog this morning. I'm certainly busy enough -- maybe too busy. This week seems like a perfect storm of demands from each of these -- and several other -- directions. My head has been spinning and I'm not winding down after work very well. My wife is very helpful in helping me see when I'm overcommitted, and this week she's had a big mirror held up to my face because she loves me and doesn't want me to burn out.

I'm plenty busy enough. That's not the point.

The question I'm asking now is, if I fail in any of these areas, what will it cost me? Do I have skin in the game in any of these areas, or have I carefully insulated myself from the costs of potential failure?

If we had more time to think about such things this morning, we could also talk about the costs of success -- because each of these bullet points above carries tremendous potential to cost me time, energy, money, and reputation if I succeed. But I have not thought much about the potential costs of failure. It makes me wonder about the real depth of my commitment. If I recognize the potential costs of my success, but don't think about the costs of failure, is there a temptation for me to back off, to do mediocre work, to stay away from the sharp edges of effort in order to shield myself from the costs of success?

What about the costs of mediocrity?

Oh, there are lots of questions, and I'm afraid I don't have many answers this morning.

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