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A story to teach us how to conquer racism and differences.

I read many things everyday. I recently came across the following true story. I forwarded it to myself to make sure to remind me to post this to my blog. I have no idea where I got it, who wrote it, and don’t know who to give the credit to. I really don’t care about all that. I only hope the following story will encourage us and teach us many things about this crazy life. Enjoy.

One spring morning many years ago, I had been prospecting for gold along Coho Creek on southeastern Alaska’s Kupreanof Island, and as I emerged from a forest of spruce and hemlock, I froze in my tracks. No more than 20 paces away in the bog was a huge Alaskan timber wolf—caught in one of Trapper George’s traps.

Old George had died the previous week of a heart attack, so the wolf was lucky I had happened along. Confused and frightened at my approach, the wolf backed away, straining at the trap chain. Then I noticed some­thing else: It was a female, and her teats were full of milk. Somewhere there was a den of hungry pups waiting for their mother.

From her appearance, I guessed that she had been trapped only a few days. That meant her pups were probably still alive, surely no more than a few miles away. But I suspected that if I tried to release the wolf, she would turn aggressive and try to tear me to pieces.

So I decided to search for her pups instead and began to look for incoming tracks that might lead me to her den. Fortunately, there were still a few remaining patches of snow. After several moments, I spotted paw marks on a trail skirting the bog.

The tracks led a half mile through the forest, then up a rock­-strewn slope. I finally spotted the den at the base of an enormous spruce. There wasn’t a sound in­side. Wolf pups are shy and cautious, and I didn’t have much hope of luring them outside. But I had to try. So I began imitating the high­-pitched squeak of a mother wolf calling her young. No response. A few moments later, after I tried another call, four tiny pups appeared.

They couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old. I extended my hands, and they tentatively suckled at my fingers. Perhaps hunger had helped overcome their natural fear. Then, one by one, I placed them in a burlap bag and headed back down the slope.

When the mother wolf spotted me, she stood erect. Possibly picking up the scent of her young, she let out a high­-pitched, plaintive whine. I released the pups, and they raced to her. Within seconds, they were slurping at her belly.

What next? I wondered. The mother wolf was clearly suffering. Yet each time I moved in her direction, a menacing growl rumbled in her throat. With her young to protect, she was becoming belligerent. She needs nourishment, I thought. I have to find her something to eat.

I hiked toward Coho Creek and spotted the leg of a dead deer sticking out of a snowbank. I cut off a hindquarter, then re­turned the remains to nature’s ice­box. Toting the venison haunch back to the wolf, I whispered in a soothing tone, “OK, Mother, your dinner is served. But only if you stop growling at me. C’mon, now. Easy.” I tossed chunks of venison in her direction. She sniffed them, then gobbled them up.

Cutting hemlock boughs, I fashioned a rough shelter for myself and was soon asleep nearby. At dawn, I was awakened by four fluffy bundles of fur sniffing at my face and hands. I glanced toward the agitated moth­er wolf. If I could only win her confidence, I thought. It was her only hope.

One snap of her huge jaws and she could break my arm ... or my neck.

Over the next few days, I divided my time between prospecting and trying to win the wolf’s trust. I talked gently with her, threw her more venison, and played with the pups. Little by little, I kept edging closer—though I was careful to re­main beyond the length of her chain. The big animal never took her dark eyes off me. “Come on, Mother,” I pleaded. “You want to go back to your friends on the mountain. Relax.”

At dusk on the fifth day, I delivered her daily fare of venison. “Here’s dinner,” I said softly as I approached. “C’mon, girl. Nothing to be afraid of.” Suddenly, the pups came bounding to me. At least I had their trust. But I was beginning to lose hope of ever winning over the mother. Then I thought I saw a slight wagging of her tail. I moved within the length of her chain. She remained motionless. My heart in my mouth, I sat down eight feet from her. One snap of her huge jaws and she could break my arm … or my neck. I wrapped my blanket around myself and slowly settled onto the cold ground. It was a long time before I fell asleep.

I awoke at dawn, stirred by the sound of the pups nursing. Gently, I leaned over and petted them. The mother wolf stiffened. “Good morning, friends,” I said tentatively. Then I slowly placed my hand on the wolf’s injured leg. She flinched but made no threatening move. This can’t be happening, I thought. Yet it was.

I could see that the trap’s steel jaws had imprisoned only two toes. They were swollen and lacerated, but she wouldn’t lose the paw—if I could free her.

“OK,” I said. “Just a little longer and we’ll have you out of there.” I applied pressure, the trap sprang open, and the wolf pulled free.

Whimpering, she loped about, favoring the injured paw. My experience in the wild suggested that the wolf would now gather her pups and vanish into the woods. But cautiously, she crept toward me. The pups nipped playfully at their mother as she stopped at my elbow. Slowly, she sniffed my hands and arms. Then the wolf began licking my fingers. I was astonished. This went against everything I’d ever heard about timber wolves. Yet, strangely, it all seemed so natural.

After a while, with her pups scurrying around her, the mother wolf was ready to leave and began to limp off toward the forest. Then she turned back to me.

“You want me to come with you, girl?” I asked. Curious, I packed my gear and set off.

Following Coho Creek for a few miles, we ascended Kupreanof Mountain until we reached an al­pine meadow. There, lurking in the forested perimeter, was a wolf pack—I counted nine adults and, judging by their playful antics, four nearly full­-grown pups. After a few minutes of greeting, the pack broke into howling. It was an eerie sound, ranging from low wails to high-pitched yodeling.

At dark, I set up camp. By the light of my fire and a glistening moon, I could see furtive wolf shapes dodging in and out of the shadows, eyes shining. I had no fear. They were merely curious. So was I.

I awoke at first light. It was time to leave the wolf to her pack. She watched as I assembled my gear and started walking across the meadow.

Reaching the far side, I looked back. The mother and her pups were sitting where I had left them, watching me. I don’t know why, but I waved. At the same time, the mother wolf sent a long, mournful howl into the crisp air.

Four years later, after serving in World War II, I returned to Coho Creek. It was the fall of 1945. After the horrors of the war, it was good to be back among the soaring spruce and breathing the familiar, bracing air of the Alaskan bush. Then I saw, hanging in the red cedar where I had placed it four years before, the now­-rusted steel trap that had ensnared the mother wolf. The sight of it gave me a strange feeling, and something made me climb Kupreanof Mountain to the meadow where I had last seen her. There, standing on a lofty ledge, I gave out a long, low wolf call—­something I had done many times before.

An echo came back across the distance. Again I called. And again the echo reverberated, this time followed by a wolf call from a ridge about a half­ mile away.

I had no fear. The wolves were merely curious. So Was I.

Then, far off, I saw a dark shape moving slowly in my direction. As it crossed the meadow, I could see 
it was a timber wolf. A chill spread through my whole body. I knew at once that familiar shape, even after four years. “Hello, old girl,” I called gently. The wolf edged closer, ears erect, body tense, and stopped a few yards off, her bushy tail wagging slightly.

Moments later, the wolf was gone. I left Kupreanof Island a short time after that, and I never saw the animal again. But the memory she left with me—vivid, haunting, a little eerie—will always be there, a reminder that there are things in nature that exist outside the laws and understanding of man.

During that brief instant in time, this injured animal and I had some­how penetrated each other’s worlds, bridging barriers that were never meant to be bridged. There is no explaining experiences like this. We can only accept them and—because they’re tinged with an air of mystery and strangeness—per­haps treasure them all the more. — End of story.

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If a man can conquer his “racism” towards a wolf, we as mankind can practice many of the same principles to conquer our “racism” of each other, all the while realizing it’s not nearly as dangerous. –Trent


The Bible…Its way more than what culture has made it.

The Bible.
It’s definitely not (Basic. Instructions. Before. Leaving. Earth.) That’s laughable and falls way short. Remember… “The Word became Flesh and dwelt amongst us.” The Word is the Creator in tangible form.

The Creator of all, engaged 40 ‘writers’ who did not know each other, who were spread out on 3 continents, over a 1500 year time span, all sharing details that validate each other’s message received. Even if some got added, or some got lost over the centuries…the person of Jesus and it’s main message did not.

At its minimum The Bible is a library loaded with tragedy and triumph, hero’s and horrors of mankind that will capture your intrigue and capture better than a movie.

I have read it, studied it, prayed through it, and critical-eyed it. At its fullness, It is alive and relevant. Cutting. Life changing. The Scripture, in its completeness, is Jesus prompting you to rise and shine and live life to its full. It’s your wisest friend of hope, and your greatest rebuke of correction.

Have you just read it? Don’t just read it. Listen deeply to it. Slow down. Clothe yourself in it and with it. Take it in…Slow down in this short life! What’s your hurry? What are you working so hard towards? Where you going? How fast did your last 20 years go by? Your next 20 will go faster and then what?

Absorb The Word with the faith of a child…Daily, for the rest of your life. Don’t doctrinize it, systematize it, or theologize it like some foolish worldly education standard.

Become it.

Then you will fully be as you were created to be. It will be the greatest challenge of your entire life and you will celebrate its accomplishment in you for eternity with the others who did the same.


Sheep, Sheep Dogs, Shepherds, and Wolves…What the Church can learn from 9/11

This writing is a modification of segments of Dave Grossman’s book titled, “On Killing.”

I hope my bringing attention to his book, helps him sell a few more.  If you’d like to buy his book, “On Killing” just click this link, or click the picture to the right.  Anything in “italicized quotes” below will be direct quotes from the book.

If you’d prefer to simply watch me preach this exact post…just click on this link. Advance the video to the 7 minute mark to get right to this material.

This post is meant for the Church, aka… followers of Jesus. Its a direct look at the roles that are played under the umbrella of christendom.

Its important to start by saying…Holiness never grows old. Holiness makes the heart, soul, mind, and strength of a human…Whole.  There is nothing quite like the created, living as the Creator intended.  To be a follower of Jesus sometimes means social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or, in many parts of the world, the ultimate sacrifice of a martyrs death.

With a quarter century of Church leadership in my rearview mirror…I have learned to identify 4 types of people in and outside of the church body.

Most of the people in christendom are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive people who mostly only hurt one another by accident.  What this means is that the vast majority of Church-goers are not inclined to hurt one another.  I suppose, if you’ve listened to enough stories, one might think that Churches are full of hypocrites, hucksters, and hurtful people.  Its simply not true.  Those stories are just more fun to tell, because our human-ness, oddly, is magnetically attentive to the gore stories.

The stories of christian hypocrisy would have us believe that we may well be in the most dysfunctional times of Church history, but the facts are… Church harm is still remarkably rare. This is because most christians are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. The title is fitting…sheep. I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. The Bible calls them sheep, too. Sheep, after all, are wonderful creatures.

The other spectrum beholds the wolves.  Wolves feed on the sheep mercilessly. There are evil people in the Church, and in the world, and they are capable of evil deeds. Lucifer is undoubtably the leader of wolves.  The moment you forget there are wolves or pretend they don’t affect you, you become a sheep.

 

In the middle of this riddle, there is also the shepherd.

Jesus, while on earth as a man, was the Great Shepherd.  There are some in the Church that are shepherds as well.  These shepherds are wonderful people.  The shepherd is a protector-gatherer.  The shepherd uses voice to protect and gather, shepherds are willing to lay down their life for the sheep.  The shepherd is absolutely a wonderful person.

Then there are sheepdogs.  The sheepdog lives to protect the flock of sheep from harm of any kind…especially from the wolf.

If you have no capacity for violence and are a healthy contributing Church goer, then you are remarkably a sheep or a shepherd.

If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for people, then you are an aggressive or even a passive aggressive sociopath, a wolf.

But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for those inside and outside the body of Christ? What are you then? You are a sheepdog.  Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal realm of human dread, stare the wolf in the eyes and not look away, and end up walking out with scars of glory as evidence of being a sheepdog…you probably even walk with a limp, and some sheep, confuse it to be a strut. It is no strut…it is a limp. The greatest sheepdogs walk with a limp.

The sheep, shepherd, and the wolves are always alert as to the sheepdog’s location. The shepherd needs the sheepdog and the sheepdog needs the Great Shepherd.

We know that the sheep live in an innocent form of denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to face, or for some sheep, acknowledge, that there is real evil in the world. They can accept the fact that sin causes problems, which is why they want recovery groups for those people, youth Groups to save their kids, and secure Church buildings to gather as the flock, so they can be fed by a good shepherd.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. A sheepdog looks kinda like a wolf. The sheepdog has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not, and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The Church cannot work any other way and it is clear in 1 Corinthians 5.  It can be very easy for a sheepdog to turn into a wolf.  This is why the sheepdog needs The Great Shepherd in close proximity as all times.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep and makes the shepherd nervous. The sheepdog is a constant reminder that there are wolves nearby. The sheep would prefer that the sheepdog didn’t tell them where to go, or warn them of impending dangers, here, or in eternity. The sheep would prefer the sheepdog didn’t direct them towards obedience to the commands of The Great Shepherd.  The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog grind down his fangs, purchase a sheep costume at the local Goodwill, zip himself up in it, and make sounds of, “Baa,” and fit into the flock a little more submissively.

Until the wolf shows up.

Then the entire mob of sheep tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The local shepherds, typically are impactful at feeding the sheep.  The sheep under ordinary circumstances stay in the middle of the pasture and do their job as sheep. They are good sheep that feed the hungry, cloth the naked, love the orphan and widow, pay what is necessary to do more of such.  In their sheep-ness, they don’t have the time of day for the sheepdog.  Until the wolf pack comes within sight. The sheepdog nearly gets dog piled by the sheep as they seek to be safe.  This is how the sheep and the shepherd act towards the sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Please understand…there is nothing superior about the sheepdog; it is just what someone chooses to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a carefully distant creature.  The sheepdog is always looking at the edge of the woods, the horizon, just over the hill, out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, looking into the dark, staying on the edges, and always prepared for a righteous battle.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, they don’t plan for it, talk about it, or even like to think about it.  The sheepdog knows the wolf is close and has been prepared for an attack every since the day it decided to become a sheepdog. For a different perspective… “After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep and shepherds, that is, most citizens in America said, “Thank God I wasn’t on one of those planes.” The sheepdogs, said, “Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference.”

Once you choose to become a sheepdog, you make a decision to truly invest yourself in all that a sheepdog is about.  You want to be there when the wolf shows up. You want to be able to make a difference.  After all, eternity is at stake, and heaven and hell are in the balance.

I repeat…there is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, but it does have one real advantage. Only one. The sheepdog is never attacked by the wolf.  Wolves target victims by their body language. slumped walk, passive nature, lack of awareness to surroundings…Sheep.  Sheepdogs stand tall, head up, shoulders back, aware, keen, sharp, armored up like Ephesians 6:10-18 demands!  Truly living under the shield of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

On a side note…some might think they remember seeing a sheepdog getting attacked by a wolf.  Nope! If you think this, you just didn’t notice the wolf was actually just a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Oh yes, you heard that right.   Wolves don’t attack the sheepdog.  Only sheep who pretending to be a wolf are dumb enough to attack a sheepdog. However… There’s really no such thing as a sheep in wolf’s clothing…there’s only wolves.

Some people may be naturally lured to be sheep and others might be environmentally conditioned to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I’m encouraged to say that more and more followers of Jesus are choosing to become sheepdogs like the forefathers of the faith…the ones referenced in the Hall of Faith found in Hebrews chapter 11 of the Holy Bible.

“Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, “Let’s roll,” which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers – athletes, business people and parents. — from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.”

A critical point to make is this… “In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn’t have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you choose to be a sheep, shepherd, sheepdog, or a wolf. It is a conscious, moral decision.” 

“If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to resist you and make you continually flee with your tail tucked between your legs, you will have no safety, no trust and you will eternally hunger for love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip, and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door…you are always preparing for that moment! 

And so the sheepdog must strive to confront denial in all aspects of life, and prepare themselves for the day when evil comes. If you are sheepdog who is immersed in the Double Edged Sword called the Holy Bible, and you, for even a short moment, forget, ignore, and reject your weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the wolf will not come today. In this spiritual world we live in, there is no down time when it comes to carrying your weapon with you.  Even when you rest, you must rest on, in, and with, the Word of God, within your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  If you disagree with me about this, all I ask of you is tip your head back and say this…

“Baa.”

This business of being a sheep, a shepherd, or a sheepdog is not a yes-no ultimatum. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice.

It is a matter of degrees, a pendulum swinging. On one end is the head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate sheepdog. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between.  For instance…Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial.

Followers of Jesus have recently taken a step up too.  When the US government became so bold as to redefine what marriage is and redefine what your biological sex is, it woke the Church.  It woke even some sleeping sheepdogs.

These shifts in time caused the sheep to take a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their sheepdog warriors, and the sheepdogs started taking their job more seriously. The direction to which you swing in this pendulum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will thrive, spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, in your marriage, your parenting, and your finances.

What is it for you? It is your choice.

Sheep

Shepherd

Sheepdog

Wolf.

It is a choice with huge ramifications. Choose wisely…I remind us all….our choice on this influences the populations of heaven and hell for eternity.


Major Transition reality for the Renner Family…

 

It has been around 365 days since I moved into Fountain Hills AZ, and began my new ministry venture at the Church called Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills.

I am grateful for the large numbers of people that have been watching, praying, and cheering for the Renner family from a distance.

I want to compare my experience to previous ones.  I have been in some kind of professional ministry for the past 27 years.  The different titles I have been given through those 27 years within the local church have been; Preaching Pastor, Youth Pastor, Associate Pastor, Singles Pastor, First Impressions Pastor, Evangelism Pastor, Church Planter, Merging pastor, Senior Minister, Lead Minister, President of Mission Org, Bible Teacher, and a few titles that I have heard whispered behind closed doors about me.  LOL!

All is good.  I write this blog to the professional pastor out there and I have one purpose and point in this post.  For those who are not a professional pastor, I hope you will read and be challenged to encourage your pastor, who may not always show it in ways you think you need, but he/she loves you and wants to protect you, and prepare you to meet Jesus someday, like nobody else in your life.

Out of all the titles I’ve held over the past 27 years, the current title I hold has been the most challenging and difficult thing I’ve done.  The title is best described in its simplest form as Lead Pastor.  But that title is not the best description of my title.  The real title, in the eyes of those my position has affected the most, is …”Our Next Pastor.”

It is a legitimate title, because I have been called it too many times to count in just the last year. Its not a bad title and in all honesty it really is the most fitting title for the situation.  I’m good with the title.

After 26 years of very successful ministry endeavors, this year 27 has had me feeling like I didn’t have a clue in what I was doing.  In the past 27 years, I have been more of a church planter type lead pastor than anything else.  So when I transitioned into the role of “our next pastor” to replace a retiring founding pastor who had tenure for 33 years, I really had no idea what I was getting into.  And I got into it thick!  From what I’ve been told or have read about other pastors who have transitioned into the role of “our next pastor”… I’ve had it pretty good.  In fact this isn’t my first rodeo with trying to be the “our next pastor.”  I tried it once in a church in FL and literally quit 7 weeks into it.  It just wouldn’t be right to share the gory details of that hardship my family encountered…but…  all  that to say, becoming “our next pastor” is not for the faint of heart.  It is not fun, but it is good. It literally is the hardest thing I’ve done in professional ministry.  So…what’s my main point here? Keep reading…

Many USA resources are stating that around 10,000 baby boomers, people born between 1946-1964, are retiring everyday right here in the good ol USA… and will continue to do so until 2036. Google it, its crazily true.  Calculate that and it equals more than 80 million people retiring in the next 19 years.

I believe it is fair for me to guess, then, that there will be a multitude of founding pastors in that mix of retirees.  Which means there will be multitudes of “our next pastors” stepping into their shoes, picking up their torches, or taking their batons.  For those who are about to step into the shoes of those retiring founding pastors, please heed my words of warning.

There is nothing more leadership intensively difficult, nothing more hazardous to orchestrate, nothing more uncertain in its success, that will leave you feeling isolated and abandoned, than to fill the shoes of a retiring-founding pastor, and be the one who introduces a new era of influence. You, serving as ‘Our Next Pastor’ will have enemies in all those who love the old form, and at best, lukewarm support in all those who will benefit by the new. So, for God’s sake, for the Church’s sake, for the lost’s sake, for a troubled world’s sake, look forward, move forward, dig deep, for the very reason this situation is happening, is because the current status quo isn’t working anymore. Lead on, O’ leader, lead on!  You only need the solid rock on which you stand, to be your inspiration…Jesus…to remind you that He can do immeasurably more than you dare to ask or hope for! So persist, press on, endure! Let Jesus be your only audience you desire to please, and He alone must be your faith, your hope, and your love.  You are the, ‘our next Pastor’!  You got this! 

If I can personally visit with you over the phone, email, or at a table, with a hot cup of coffee or Dr. Pepper with a wedge of lime squeezed in it, please just ask.  I’ve been taking extremely thorough notes through this adventure. I am seeing success. More time will tell the truth in how I’m doing.  It has become vividly clear to me why churches struggle to produce fruit beyond the 100, 200, & 400 growth barriers. I can help you! I know I will pump you up!! 🙂  And even more, I know I would also learn from you.  I’d be grateful to swap stories with you, compare scars, celebrate our victories, cry through the heart wrenching experiences our families face as we lead people to experience God, and most of all, I simply want to encourage you, and have you walk away with shining eyes!

This is really, really good work we do.  Of course it is hard. It reminds us how alive we really are.

 

 

 

 


Do you innovate or Discover? We all lead…What kind of leader are you?

If you have the perseverance to read this article, you will be able to identify which category of person you are. Do you have the mentality of innovation or discovery?

A flyover of the differences between the two are simply understood this way… In innovative ventures, there is the all important rule…and it is this…

“FOLLOW ALL THE RULES”

That’s the code of the innovative organization. You follow the rules, restrictions, and systems, because we believe they’re up-to-date, effective, and correct, and that’s what makes us who we are.

In innovative ventures, obedience is its own reward, is required, and is prized.

Innovators…

Webster says that innovation is, “to make changes, or do something in a new way.” In Non-webster terms I would say it this way. Innovation is to take something old and make it useable in a new way. Innovation is reformation. Innovation is often the act of taking something that worked over there and adapting it, so it works over here in a better way than it worked over there.

Is this a bad thing? No. I’m not opposed to the product that innovation creates, I’m disturbed by what the innovation process does to the innovators.

To innovate something usually requires an attitude of, “needs improvement.” Such an attitude is not necessarily a bad thing. Great leaders have the ability to see what’s not working and make necessary changes. The tricky part is, an attitude of “that needs improvement” is usually preceded by an attitude of “I can do it better.”

It’s very difficult to be humble with an “I can do it better,” attitude, and the frustrating thing is, this naturally breeds arrogance.

There are some common errors that innovators make that create their own demise. The Wall Street Journal recently came up with a list of 5 commons mistakes of Innovators. I will give a brief description of the mistakes and if you want to read the full article you can go to this link and read the details.

http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2011/05/23/five-common-mistakes-business-leaders-make-about-innovation/?mod=google_news_blog

The 5 common errors of Innovators…And I added a sixth.

1. You believe your own numbers and stats. You insist on “seeing the numbers” too soon and all you have to base your numbers on, is your current statistics, compared to your past.

2. The Success Trap. When a company gets success, it easily can focus on what they think is the thing that made them successful. This focus on “what got us here” causes a crowding out of other options, especially from new people that have joined you. This causes success fragility. In their book “In Search of Excellence,” by Peters and Waterman, the authors tell the fate of 43 companies recently leading the world that got caught in this trap. Today only 5 of those 43 companies even exist.

3. Believe they know the competition. The innovative company tends to make huge mistaken identity gaffs when it comes to identifying the competition. Ask the innovative CEO, “Who is your competition?” They will usually reply with the company that is most like them. The problem with this is that history proves that our greatest competitors usually come from a different angle. i.e. Shipping companies suffered from the steam engine, newspapers are in trouble because of the internet, watch companies suffer because of time being displayed on mobile phones.

4. Believe that because everybody had always done it this way, it is the best way of doing the next “new” thing. When America landed on the moon…Innovation built the rocket, the space suits, space food, etc. But innovation is not what Neil Armstrong used when he put his hand on the door hatch and opened the door to outer space to take his first step onto the moon’s surface. That was sheer discovery…no longer could innovation be used. Talk about a humbling moment.

5. Asking the customers for their opinion. The innovative company is really good at answering the questions that their non-customers never ask. The customers have already bought into the company. Why are we asking them what they want? It actually gets worse…Think about it, the company’s leadership team, that has innovated its idea from an old idea, is now sitting around the table making decisions based off of what has been done to try to keep going to next levels.

6. Stop taking real risks. Most innovative companies are led by people who ultimately are not risk takers. There is a difference between risk taking and calculated risk taking. Innovative Leaders are safe “risk” takers. They only take calculated risks with what they understand. The problem with this lies in the fact that if you are the company in the lead…which means nobody has gone before you on this journey…you can’t calculate what to do, because their has been nothing done before you to calculate. There is nothing to do but risk. Companies in the lead usually end up not being in the lead anymore, because the Leader ran out of ideas to innovate.

Innovation is good. Discovery is Great! Let’s break down discovery…
Webster says that Discovery is, “The act of finding or learning something for the first time.”

My heart beats faster, just after reading that definition. You’ve read the headlines…“Her research led to a number of important discoveries. Discovered a talented musician. Voyage of discovery. It was one of the most important discoveries in the history of _____________!”

Discovery!

Think of Lewis and Clark and their expedition of discovery. It required teamwork. It required admitting that they had no clue what they were going to really encounter. Discovery has a knack of showing all involved that they are not in control. Discovery forces all involved to admit this phrase; “I don’t know!” Therefore, discovery creates humility.

Here’s what is exciting to me about the key difference between innovation and discovery. I wrote earlier that Innovation breeds arrogance. What’s evident about discovery, is that it breeds humility.

An arrogant person thrust into an environment of discovery will be forced to become humble. Humility is born and bred in the middle of uncertainty and danger. Opening yourself or your organization to uncertainty and danger creates humility.

Discoverers have to rely on and trust each other. Which team would you rather work on? Innovation or Discovery? In his book, “Good to Great,” Jim Collins differentiates between Levels 1,2,3,4, & 5 leaders. Collins talks about how level 4 leaders and level 5 leaders can produce very similar results, but a key difference between a level 4 leader and a level 5 leader is humility or lack there of. Level 5 leaders always lead through humility. Level 5 leaders tend to lead companies with the reputation for being Discovery oriented. By the way, if you doubt you are a humble leader, then you are humble.

A good example of creating humility through discovery would be taking an innovative person, as described earlier, and put them in the front of a raft as everybody White Water Rafts down some grade 5 rapids. The typical innovative person will have their arrogance washed away (in this case maybe literally). This setting of discovery forces arrogance to morph into humility.

A quick comparison of Discovery and Innovation. Innovation focuses on the outcome and results. Discovery focuses on the cause and the behavior, while on the journey, no matter the end result.

When it comes to discovery, the most important things are not at the end of the Journey, its what develops and shapes along the journey that makes champions.

Discovery is all about the mentality of facilitating the progress and purpose of others. Discovery is fun along the way because of the thrilling unknown yet to be discovered, and it cannot be about you. It has to be about others, especially your teammates. This kind of work environment is thrilling.
The attitude of discovery has no silos among the team. Innovative environments create hierarchies and power pyramids and is led by bosses that control and measure according to a predetermined end result they will strive to achieve at all costs.

Discovery creates circles of people that honor and trust each other’s strengths. This silo-less discovery team, has a leader without a Boss mentality. The buck must stop somewhere, but the buck stops with the one who is the functional leader. A true leader is one who naturally facilitates the purpose and progress of all the others in the circle.

There is no “Boss Mentality” in the circle of discovery. Why? Because when you are out discovering and the “boss” finds himself in quicksand, the boss mode just got stuck. They are now the beggar, and now that they are helpless, depending on how they treated their “subordinates,” they might be left to die and it all be covered up as a tragic accident!

The Innovative Mentality is focused on the orgs final results and goals.

The Discovery Mentality isn’t focused on the organization as much as it focuses on the environment within the organization.

The Discovery Mentality is full of observation towers, not silos. It discovers from its own customer but is overloaded with interaction with the lives of others outside its own company…a team on discovery!

A company of discovery never polls its own, only interacts. You can’t poll something that is yet to be discovered and so the company of discovery is full of trial and error.

It has a culture of discovery and grace. How many times did Abe Lincoln fail? How many times did Albert Einstein fail? With unknowns around every corner, discovery keeps you and the team humble. It has a great sense of humor and often laughs at itself. It has a mentality of meshing and sharing with others. It has a trust in every individual in the company to utilize and expand on their own personal expertise and strengths. Team and Trust are a must in Discovery Companies. The company of discovery has an attitude of servant-hood and adventure and considers others better than self.
There is a fine line here. Its complex. Discovery companies will innovate because they didn’t have arrogance to breed from. Innovative companies rarely discover because they started with an attitude of arrogance.

My simple question is…which company do you want be a part of? Here’s what is awesome about companies of discovery. They never end. They continue to discover and adapt and discover into the future.

Companies of innovation sooner or later celebrate among themselves how they achieved their final result, they celebrate their first place status, because…they nailed their ultimate goal! Hip Hip Hooray….Hip Hip Hooray. Its at this Hip-Hip-Hooray staff meeting where they unknowingly signed the slow-death certificate. Innovative companies, in first place, have nothing left to innovate on, and these are the companies people talk about when they think back at what used to be amazing.

Innovation routes always have dead ends. Yep, I said it, always. Discovery routes may have cul-de-sacs, but cul-de-sacs and dead ends are very different, and it is measured out in arrogance or humility.

I by no means am an expert in this. I’m simply on a discovery journey.  I am thinking out loud.  I’d enjoy your comments and thoughts.  I’m still discovering what really works for me and its an adventure that is quite thrilling and very humbling.


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