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Shut up!

December 5, 2012

“Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.” St James

I am convinced there’s a whole universe worth of strategy in that statement. I don’t care who you are, what your role in life is, or what positions or titles you hold. That advice above applies to you. And, if followed it will do you a world of good. It will bring you healthy relationships. It can also bring you treasure in the spiritual and monetary sense of that word.

If you are a mom trying to get through to your daughter this applies.

If you are a CEO hoping your partners will finally “get it” this applies.

If you are a new manager and can’t figure out why your direct reports won’t respect you, this applies.

If you are a salesperson and you find you are no longer closing sales the way you used to, this applies.

If you are husband and you feel like you’re losing touch with your wife, this applies.

For whatever reasons (and they are legion!) we are convinced that talking at problems will fix them and giving people more information will influence them.


People want to be heard. Really heard. Really understood. It’s also true that to fix a problem you have to learn and learning requires listening as the price of admission.

An example from my business life. I can not tell you how many times I have had a sales person come into my office and convince me of the need to buy. I was hooked. I just had a few questions for them and I was ready to open up my check book sometimes to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. But they could not pick up on the ques that it was my turn to talk or that I had a question. They wanted to finish their speech, pull every sales trick out of their grab bag and make sure I had ‘all the information I needed to make an informed decision.’ Well guess what?! I had already made a decision to buy and the more they talked the less interested I became. Because in that moment it was all about them. If they were offering me something of value it should have been about me, right? I mean I had mentally already stroked the check. I was right where they wanted me. But… they kept talking. And talking, And talking. So they lose.

Why? Because I assume they represent the culture of the company they are selling for. And if the culture is talk talk talk talk talk, then what happens when I have a problem with their product or service? Am I to assume that their customer service department will be totally attentive and ready to help? I immediately start to have doubts. And the more they talk the more my doubts grow…

Listening well takes work and practice and learning. But it can be learned and to be really effective in any endeavor I believe it must be learned. I fully agree with John Jantsch, “…one of the master skills of any marketer, manager or educator is the ability to listen perceptively to what our prospects, customers, staff and community members are saying. And I further believe this is something we all have to work at.” (The Commitment Engine, p 152)

Here’s an amazing Ted talk that got passed to me this week by my good friend Chris Marshall who heard about it from our mutual friend Bill Bean.
It’s all about the leverage and importance of listening if we really want to do well and do good….

Why I’m not afraid

December 1, 2012

Tomorrow begins the annual time of preparation that Christians the world over call Advent. This time of preparation is so strongly juxtaposed to what happens in pop-culture. As people begin mindlessly shopping and listening to inane holiday songs and getting them self all whipped up into the ‘holiday spirit’ Advent comes along with this…

Luke 21: 25-26 “It will seem like all hell has broken loose—sun, moon, stars, earth, sea, in an uproar and everyone all over the world in a panic, the wind knocked out of them by the threat of doom, the powers-that-be quaking. (from The Message, a translation of the Bible by Eugene Peterson)

Holy Shiite! That’s some wild stuff! And nothing like the pablum pop-culture feeds us. Advent is for the strong, the prepared, the fearless.

Or perhaps its for the weak, the unprepared and the fearful who know Someone who embodies strength, power, and confidence…

27-28 “And then—then!—they’ll see the Son of Man (aka Jesus) welcomed in grand style—a glorious welcome! When all this starts to happen, up on your feet. Stand tall with your heads high. Help is on the way!” 

Here’s the thing.

We who know, trust and love Christ don’t have to be afraid of the worst that could possibly come at us. Our strength and confidence comes via association with him.

We can choose to be numb on strong drink and just act like everything is ok. We can shop and hum and sip our peppermint mochas and try to avoid the realities of suffering that already exist in the world and the future crisis that are bound to come by getting into the holiday spirit.

Or we can choose to align and side with the author of life, the Creator of the cosmos, and the One who overcame death.

I want to be on HIS team when all breaks loose because he will be the one calling the shots in the end anyway…





Practice Gratitude

November 26, 2012

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”  Meister Eckhart

Practicing gratitude is not only good for your soul its also good for business. It is amazing how a simple “thank you” can turn people into champions for your business. That goes esepcially for your co-workers, vendors, referral partners and the customers that every day make your business go by simply showing up, engaging your services and opening wide their wallets. That is something that we do not want to take for granted!

Most industries these days are at risk of being turned into a commodity. Fierce competition exists and if you’re strategy is to compete on price alone you’re in for trouble. As a favorite mentor of mine likes to say: “There’s always someone ready to go out of business faster than you!” (John Jantsch) And that is pretty much what you can expect when you compete on price. It may be a slow painful death but you’ve already lost the battle if price is your main focus. Now, there are exceptions. But if you’re not Wal-Mart it likely won’t work.

Much better to build relationships and then nurture them with gratitude.

The shadow side of gratitude is flattery. If all you want is someone’s money (or referrals or performance, same thing) then gratitude devolves into one more tool of manipulating people to get what you want rather than sincere thanks.
So what are the marks of sincere gratitude vs. flattery?

Simple. Gratitude is mindful of the other person and treats them as more than a conduit for a transaction.

How do you say thanks?


Referral relationships

November 14, 2012

Here’s some more ideas on building up referral relationships in your business:

I read once (and I wish I could remember where so I could give them credit!) that people talk a lot about “buisness to buisness” selling but that is never really the case, it is always, always, always “person to person.” Behind every business deal is a person.

I love the Referral Institute’s formula and I see it in practice every day as a business owner: Visibility + Credibility = Profitability

Trust is at the core of building relationships and nobody rolls deeper than the Better Business Bureau on that topic. They have built their whole brand around this idea including their yearly torch awards.

So how does a small business owner build referral relationships? Here are some of the basics:

Availability: These first 2 are actually vows taken by the Northumbria community. That community has learned there can be no relationship unless their members are available and vulnerable with each other. Our life is made up of a succession of moments so sharing our time is THE way we share our lives. Are you available to your most important customers and referral partners? Do they have direct access to you? This should most likely not be the general public if you are trying to build a business that is bigger than yourself. You do not want everyone to have your mobile phone number but you do want those 20-40 people who send you a lot of work (or have the potential to) to be able to contact you directly and get a response fairly quickly from you. Not your assistant. Not an auto responder email. Not a gatekeeper. YOU! First of all the type of people who are great referral partners probably won’t have the time or patience to wade through a matrix of gatekeepers whether persons or machines. They will want direct access. If they have a problem or want to make a referral you want them to be able to get to you directly.

Vulnerability: do you have the ability to make fun of yourself? to not take yourself too seriously? When we’re vulnerable with another person it triggers empathy in them and builds a bond between people. It’s also important to show real emotion. Now of course there is a balance here. You don’t always want to be wearing your heart on your sleeve in every relationship and certainly not in every business relationship but you might have to risk a little vulnerability and see how the other person responds. If they show empathy or better yet take a risk back then you have the basis of a relationship. If they don’t you may not even want them as a referral partner anyway.

Attention: Its interesting in our culture we talk about “paying attention.” Attention is a valuable currency! Want to reward someone or thank them for sending you work? Pay attention to them! Give generously of your attention. (Learned this one from my friend Chris Marshall… I wonder if he has written about this anywhere online? Maybe if Chris reads this he’ll post a link in the comments below? Pretty please?)

Telling your story: This ties in with vulnerability but the power of story, YOUR story is stronger than you may think. People want to know how you ended up in the buisness you are in, what motivated you to start a non-profit, or why you changed careers when you were 33. Just write it out and share it with a few people and see what happens.

Listening We’ve probably all heard the old adage that we have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason and how important it is for us to listen twice as much as we talk. Well even though its now cliche, its still true. Developing the ability to really hear another person is so so hard and so so worth it. It will deepen every realtionship you have and help you build the ones you want to have. Whether in your family or business. Knowing what customers want is THE secret sauce of selling and all it involves is learning to ask really good questions and shutting up. I can’t tell you how many times salespeople had me on the line and by talking too much literally talked me out of the sale. Hundreds of times. It seems counter intuitive but the more you talk the less I’m likely to buy. I just want the abbreviated version, the raw facts and then the ability to ask a couple follow up questions. Then I just want to feel heard. Practice the “You had me at hello” sales. Don’t pontificate! Listen!

Empathy: Following closely on the heels on listening is the practice of empathy. Empathy is a habit, a skill that can be learned. It can’t be faked but it can be learned. If you truly don’t care about people, you don’t deserve to succeed in business. If you are truly in it just for yourself I hope you don’t succeed. The last thing the world needs is another narcissistic a-hole entrepreneur. However, if you have a genuine desire to do well and you’re willing to do well by treating people well, caring for them, understanding their needs and offering something of real value then I want you to do well. You WILL do well. I love the prayer of St Francis “Seek first to understand, not to be understood.” That is at the heart of good listening and empathy.


I’ve had many good mentors in learning about referring relationships. Some top mentions include BNI, Referral Institute, Andy Senowitz and John Jantsch.

Referring Relationships

November 12, 2012

(This next round of posts is going to get a little more tactical than what I’ve been writing in recent weeks.The upside is that the things I’ll be exploring apply to businesses, churches, artists, solopreneurs and non-profits… see what you think. And please let me know if they are helpful. Or not helpful.)

– – – – – – – – –

When I first started leading Center City Collision at the end of 2003 I remember thinking how much work went into getting customers. Thankfully the previous owner had a good customer base and many people came in during the early years and asked for him. “Larry still working here?” This gave me the opportunity to tell them a little bit about the transition to my ownership and then offer to write them an estimate. My strategy at the time was simply to land as many jobs as I could. That was pretty much it. Just land them one by one as they came through the door. I’d get my clipboard and blank piece of paper and walk outside and take a few notes about the damage, get their VIN # and then write an estimate and just hope they would say “Yes” when I offered to put them on the calendar and pre-order all the parts needed for the job. One customer at a time we started to grow.

Then a really bad thing happened at the Volkswagen dealership next door. Someone ran across the hoods of several brand new cars. I never did hear if they caught the person that did it but the net result was 8 brand new cars were damaged and needed to be repaired and painted. Eight! At the time we were averaging about 10 cars a month. It was obviously more than we could handle all at once. But the dealer asked us to do 4 of them and they would send 4 to another shop. I was so stoked! The pressure to sell was off for a couple of weeks and we could focus on getting these brand new cars back to the dealer as soon as possible. I can’t remember exactly how long it took us but I know we did it faster than the other shop and our paint jobs matched the original better too. In fact we had to repaint at least one of the other shop’s jobs to help get the color right.

The best thing about this for us was it solidified a relationship with that dealer. It gave us an opportunity to show them what we were capable of and increased their confidence in us. Shortly after this we became the primary shop they referred their customers to which, as it turned out, has been a significant portion of our yearly revenue for the past 8 years.

This experience taught me a very important lesson about the power of referrals and the importance of having referral partners. So rather than try to land one job at a time, I realized there are people out there who because they are trusted and have a customer base have the power to refer lots of customers. Call them influentials, connectors, mavens, trust agents, or whatever you want. The reality is they can send you a lot of profitable work if you can find a way to get them to know, like and trust you and your services or product.

So here’s a couple questions to help you uncover potential referral partners:

Are there businesses that you don’t compete with but do share customers with?

Who are the people who get to your customers before you do?

Just by way of illustration for us in auto body repair good referral partners are people like car dealers, insurance agents, and mechanics. If you run those three through the grid of those 2 questions above it’s easy to see why.


The seedlings in your life and business…

November 10, 2012

“The key to creating a great list of commitment beliefs is to throw off any notion of what they should be and simply brainstorm a bit about the best traits of your organization. Think about your people. Who on your team embodies what your company stands for? … Once more for emphasis: This is not a list of what ought to be or what sounds impressive. This is a list of what is, even if what is today isn’t as fully developed as you know it can be.” – John Jantsch The Commitment Engine,  p. 112

That was a bit of a revelation to me. The idea that values or what John calls “committed beliefs” are actually not ideals but are simply uncovering things that are already true about your business. And further they do not have to be tied to great achievements. They are more like little seedlings that are showing promise. They are attributes that already exist AND that you want to see more of. This was actually quite freeing.

And beyond that, a lot more fun personally!
I’m not sure if its just how my brain is wired but exercises that are designed to help you brainstorm vision and visualizing all the incredible “what if’s?” and “Someday we’ll be a $200 gazillion company led by yours truly who by then will be a perfect but utterly unique blend of Mother Theresa, Stephen Hawking and Richard Branson.”  That shit right there, wears me out! I need vision and I like to dream and explore ideas but when it gets too detached from my regular work I get a little squirrelly. By nature I’m geared for the more tactical elements of an enterprise – moving ideas from A-Z, the execution side.

So as I reflected on what is already true about my business and from that list what do I want to see more of I came up with these ideas and I’m trying them out here to see how they land. In no particular order and in “shitty first draft” (Anne Lammott) form….

1. Local love: I want Center City Collision to do good in the neighborhood. To be generous to local initiatives like Norwood Rugby, the Service League, and Norwood Promise. I want to be a good neighbor. I want us to be a ‘hub business’ that unites small businesses, encourages entrepreneurs, and serves the wider business community.

2. Care and compassion: Our tag line is “Collision repair by people who care.” I desire a culture of care for our customers and team members (employees) that has the ability to listen with genuine empathy and warmth. We recognize that everyone matters and everyone is created in God’s image so we treat people with kindness and respect no matter what their attitude or orientation or politic or gender or color or economic standing happens to be. Our approach across the board starts and ends with healthy, life affirming relationships.

3. Serving a higher purpose. Center City Collision was founded as a means to fund and do ministry. It has evolved beyond that quite quickly but I never want to lose that. I wrote about that in a previous post but as a summary all good work is part of the ongoing transformation and re-creation of the earth. Work is simply order out of chaos just like the Ancient Spirit did at creation (Genesis 1,2) where the Spirit is to said to be “brooding over the chaos” and bringing forth life. When we repair a wrecked that is the same thing. Bringing order out of chaos. Its true in your work as well. But transformation happens on many levels and our hope is to see many buildings, businesses, homes, and lives re-newed as we do our daily work and find new opportunities to bring order and flourishing.

4. Environmental stewardship. Kinda folds into #3 maybe ??

5. Joy. We want people who engage with Center City to be happier because if it. This guy has got me thinking about the possibilities of bringing more joy and happiness to myself and others

6. Creativity. Our design, business innovations, being an “industry transformer” are all important to us. For starters, our logo kicks ass! =) Thanks E!

7. Integrity. Our yes is yes. We want to make and keep promises to our neighborhood, our customers, our team and our partners.

This is just a rough draft. I’m sure things will get moved around, expanded, altered, etc… and hopefully written/ lived in a way that inspires.

But in these ideas I see seedlings that could become Oaks if given time and attention in the years ahead.

Discovering your “thing”? (Becoming a virtuoso of your own unique ability)

November 8, 2012

You are great at something.

You may not even be aware yet of what that something is but you are already great at something. Discovering this unique ability, this strength that only you have is a large part of your life’s work. And once discovered and named you can then become responsible for it and nurture it and refine it. Eventually you’ll become a unique, one-of-a-kind, virtuoso at your “thing.”

But how do you discover your “thing?” 

Your friends and family can likely already see it. They have a perspective on you that you can’t have. If you really want to know what your “thing” is, start by asking them what they see. A simple, “I’m trying to discover what I’m good at. Can you tell me how have I’ve contributed to your life?” will do.

And right here is where you’re probably telling yourself “I can’t ask my friends that question! Its sounds so self serving!” Well, its not. It’s simply part of the discovery process you’ll use to become more useful, more capable of doing what you are uniquely able to do and contributing to the good of the world. Here’s the deal: Once you know what  your “it” is, then you can you consciously put it in service to others. In that light you can think of it this way: its actually selfish not to discover your thing. We want you to discover it. We need you to.

Other avenues for discovery are the tests and tools that are on the market. Myers-Brigg. The EnneagramStrengths Finder. Kolbe. These are ones I’ve taken and can confidently recommend. Also, the book Unique Ability took me far down the path as well. But honestly, none of these gave me the full picture. They were more like pointers toward what my thing is. And honestly I’m still not 100% sure I got it right. I’m still discovering. (Which is why I’m asking you an important question at the end of this post.)

This process is kind of like an onion. You just peel a layer at a time. And with each layer you get closer to “it.” With each layer you become a little bit more self aware. And as you become more self aware you become better and better able to serve, love, and care for those around you.

And the payoff is huge. Great reward will follow each successive layer. At first it may just be the physic and self reinforcing reward of being good at something – so your confidence increases. Then as you peel further down you find that your joy also increases. Drilling further down the rewards seem to get more and more tangible. Soon it will be things like recognition and likely even revenue.

So, I have a question and an offer.

The question: I’m trying to discover what I’m good at. Can you tell me how have I’ve contributed to your life?

The offer: If I know you personally and you ask, I’ll return the favor. 


Start with Why

November 5, 2012

So yesterday I wrote that what initially drove my decision to move from being a minister to an auto body shop owner was money.

But that wasn’t the whole truth.

There were other reasons as well. My business is an economic engine that allows me to care well for my family, friends in need, and to be generous. But its also a way to present, in a very public way in a neighborhood that I love. My neighborhood has had significant abandonment issues over the years. There was a time that is still talked about fondly and longingly when General Motors had a plant here. That provided a lot of jobs and opportunities and wealth for this area. When they pulled out in 1987 – the year I graduated high school in this very place – it left a gaping hole in the local economy and a real sense of loss at a collective, emotional level. Since GM was an anchor business of sorts when they left so did other businesses.

It’s my belief that history is heading is heading somewhere. Yes, I am a Christian. As a Christian I believe in the restoration all things and that God has a plan for the very world we now inhabit. God has not abandoned it. I also believe that we are all called to cooperate with God’s vision to restore the earth and work to that end even though it will only be accomplished in God’s way and in God’s timing our current labors matter to that end in ways we can’t full imagine or understand. Yet. Restoration is at the core of God’s heart for this world.

“You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again…”

“They’ll rebuild the old ruins,
raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They’ll start over on the ruined cities,
take the rubble left behind and make it new.”

(portions of Isaiah 58 & 61 from The Message bible translated by Eugene Peterson)

This is the very passage that Jesus borrows from when he launches his ministry in Luke 4: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” is straight out of Isaiah 61.

So the vision I have for my business, for Center City Collision, is anchored in this very large story that has roots in the Jewish scriptures, the life of Jesus and the restoration of all things as God develops a renewed earth. (see Revelation 22, the final chapter in this sprawling story)

About 4 years ago I wrote a manifesto inspired by this sprawling vision of restoration and how that might begin to look and take root in our neighborhood.

+The Norwood Manifesto, by Kevin Rains
Godʼs Spirit is on us to restore, to heal, and to beautify west Norwood. We are called to
restore people, buildings, lawns, gardens, businesses, public spaces, private homes.
We welcome all to join us: those who share our faith, those who do not. We welcome
the tired in need of a new life, the depressed in need of a greater purpose, the child in
need of a future, the elderly remembering the good old days, the broken hearted in
search of a fresh start, the abused, the neglected, the rejected, the rich, the poor, the
dark skinned and the light skinned and every shade in between, wrinkled skin, tattooed
skin, pierced skin, the handicapped, the able-bodied, the overweight and overwhelmed,
the underachiever and the underdog, the sick, the mentally ill, those grieving a deep
loss, the drug addicted, alcoholics, shopoholics, the whatever-o-holic inside us all.
Weʼre all getting free from something.
We believe the best is yet to come in Norwood. We believe that her best days are in the
future, not the past. From the rich soil of a prosperous history a beautiful new tree is
growing. God is creating a new heaven and a new earth. Weʼre all a part of that future
and can enact elements of it here and now. Signs pointing to that bright future.
So, together…
We plant gardens to remind ourselves that all creation is still good and loved by God…
We start businesses in abandoned buildings reminding ourselves that Godʼs kingdom is
a family enterprise.
We buy homes that are fixer-uppers on the ʻwrong side of the tracksʼ and beautify them,
saying to our neighbors, “Weʼre here for the long haul.”
We renovate and restore ancient ruins like St. Eʼs, our beloved old lady…
We share meals in each otherʼs homes and weʼre reminded that we will one day share a
feast; a banquet that is calling to us from the future…
We offer space for the weary and worn out, to refresh, renew, retreat…
We plant flowers for the sheer joy of it and trees that will shade our childrenʼs children
as they learn to walk…
We throw parties to celebrate the life weʼve been given and the life yet to come…
We practice hope…
We are a people of the Resurrection…

What is your why?

Why a minister decided to run an auto body shop.

November 4, 2012

This post is going to get personal.

All my training and career up to this point has been directed at being in the ministry. So how did I end up owning and operating a local business?

The short answer: I needed money. My family was growing, expenses were increasing, and my income was not keeping pace.

And I also came to realize that many of the projects, ministries, and initiatives that I hoped to start or even just be a part of required an economic engine of some kind. I have seen scores of non-profits struggle because they lacked financial resources. And because I want to see what was started in my neighborhood continue and become sustainable I knew that a large, fundamental missing piece to the puzzle was having the funds to launch these dreams.

But I want to back up and sketch out the path that got me to this point.

Ever since I was a teenager I wanted to be a missionary. That seemed like the highest of all callings to me and involved elements of pioneering work, risk taking, travel  and adventure that intrigued me. I began preparing for this literally the summer after I graduated high school. A few days after graduating I boarded a plane for Brazil. I was heading to the Amazon jungle as a missionary with New Tribes Mission. How about that for jumping into the deep end! I spent the majority of my summer swimming in the Amazon river, digging a ditch at a boarding school for missionary kids, hiking in the jungle and we even did a little bit of “real” mission work when we went to some villages and I was asked to give my “testimony.” Now, if you grew up in church you’ll know that “giving your testimony” means telling people what a sinner you were and how much God/Jesus/the Bible/Sunday school/Church has changed your life and how it could do the same for others.

After that stint in the jungle, I decided I needed more training so I went to Cedarville College (now Cedarville University, thank you very much!) to study the bible for four years. But soon I was getting the itch to do something. So right in the middle of college, between my sophomore and junior year I decided to take a year off and pursue a calling to a different type of missionary field: the urban jungle. I joined Youth With a Mission aka YWAM and did some training and out reach in Amsterdam with a stint in Africa as well that took me to Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and eventually north to Cairo, Egypt as well. At this point the life of doing mission work mixed with the powerful elixir of adventure and travel was making me re-think even going back to college. But I figured I already had a couple years in, I might as well finish. So from Amsterdam I moved back to central Ohio to finish my degree.

After college I did another stint with YWAM, got married, felt called back home again and landed in the neighborhood where I graduated high school: Norwood, Ohio. I hooked up with this young church named Vineyard Central and eventually became the pastor, first as an associate pastor for 7 years then as the lead pastor for 8. During this time I was slowly working on a master’s degree in theology that eventually led me to a doctoral degree in ministry that I finished this year.

Most of the time I was a pastor I didn’t feel like a pastor. In fact, I didn’t really want to be a pastor. At least not in the traditional sense. I saw myself more as a missionary to my home town. I felt called to this place and this people. Also another thing you should know about me is that I’ve been mostly bi-vocational during this whole time. Working as a minister was my calling but I had to pay the bills in other ways. Even during college and right on through my time as a pastor this usually took the form of starting some small enterprise. Over the years I’ve started a dance club, a house painting business, a cleaning company, a handy man service and then ultimately launching into the auto body business with Center City Collision. So in one sense I’ve always been an entrepreneur, a starter. But its always been in service to my higher calling, ministry.

So my initial “Why?” was the simple need for an economic engine to support myself and my family. Then if things went really well I could also be generous and give back to others doing good work in my neighborhood.

And that happened! To a large extent and in various ways we’ve been able to do that. So its time to set the sights on something bigger… 

What I’m coming to realize is that the dream many of us have for this place is really big. And as the dream has evolved so has the need for an even bigger economic engine. And really it isn’t just one engine. There need to be multiple engines all pulling together. So hopefully my business will be one among many locally that are started and nurtured in this soil and fully committed to the higher purposes this place needs. For me and many others that is a holistic approach that involves caring for the whole person: body, mind, spirit, economy, and relationships.

I have no idea where this will all end up but I’m stoked to be a part of this unfolding story and ready to see what the next chapter will surprise us with….

Discovering a “passion mantra”

October 30, 2012

I’ve been working on John Jantsch calls a “Passion mantra.”

I’m discovering that getting in touch with my deepest desires is actually hard work. It requires some brutal honesty about what I really want and that means sorting out good desires from bad desires — or healthy desires from unhealthy desires, if you prefer. That has been a pretty grueling process. One thing I’m learning early on is that sometimes even our wrong desires (sex, money, power type of stuff) can actually lead us to what we really want (intimacy, generosity, courage to flip the aforementioned on its head).

When I get really quiet, and therefore honest and receptive, what seems to keep surfacing for me is a desire to encourage and resource emerging leaders, businesses, and communities. So something akin to a life coach/ spiritual director / mentor. Now that’s pretty broad which makes it applicable to my current business, my work with Fresh Expressions, etc. But I’m also honing in on some specifics like not just ANY business but businesses that are interested in more than the bottom line – higher purpose businesses if you will. And not just ANY faith community but communities that are deeply embedded in a place, a neighborhood that desire something a little more radical than just “being good people who go to church once a week.” Communities that want to forge a life together that has a cadence and rhythm to it and a deep commitment to be rooted in a particular place.

Yet, when I pan back a bit the word that seems to have the most mojo for me is actually the word “emerging.” I love the idea of helping people over that first hump, getting their feet wet in leadership or management of some project or venture that they are passionate about. I like what sociologists call the “liminal” space. That space between spaces where things are in flux, ideas born, and transitions navigated.

So how this apply to my current endeavors?

Well, I have some pretty aggressive growth goals for my body shop and to achieve those goals I’m going to need a small army of people who are able to lead and manage others.

Also, my work with Fresh Expressions in the Episcopal Church is an obvious fit especially among the new communities that are springing up in our region.

It of course applies in my family as I have two teenagers and one “teenager in training.” Kids are great because they are always in those in-between places as they grow and mature and become… in a sense they’re always emerging!

It could also be the basis of a new coaching or consulting venture of some kind. I’m open to that but not pursuing it at the moment.

I know I still have a lot of work to do on defining and refining my “passion mantra.” John is really encouraging by writing that its not something we get right on the first try and probably not even by the thirtieth but I hope this little foray into my discovery process has encouraged you to consider what you really desire and helped you get a little more in touch with your passion.