Lumunos helps you Reflect ~ Connect ~ Discover your gifts to find your call in life, through these stories and observations here, through our website, and through retreats. Help us help you continue to discover your calling in life. Donations are accepted through our Website.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When Ideas Flow

What do you think about when given a free moment? Are there problems you find yourself solving whether or not you are asked? When do ideas flow, and what are they about? The way you answer these questions can tell you a lot about the direction your life wants to take you.

Recently in a Make a Living, Have a Life Group a 30-something woman named Katie was talking about an invitation she received to be on a web committee for a local nonprofit. Even as she was deciding whether or not to say “yes,” she had all kinds of thoughts about the work of the committee. Almost as an aside, she said to our group, “Yea, the ideas always flow around that stuff for me.”

As group facilitator, I subtly blew my air horn and sent up a signal flare. These Have a Life calls are designed to help people find work that is more connected with their meaning and passion. Katie had just identified an important trail marker on that path.

Ideas usually flow most naturally and abundantly around things to which we feel called. It is as if there is a spring of creativity that is constantly renewing itself. We don’t even have to try—as Katie says, the ideas just come. The opposite is true as well.

Yesterday I was in my back yard doing a simple carpentry project. It didn’t take me long to get in trouble. I just don’t have a lot of imagination when it comes to building projects. I can usually stumble my way through without stapling myself to a fence, but clearly the idea fountain is neither abundant nor renewing when I am doing carpentry. But today when it came time to think about a retreat and writing project, the ideas came rolling out. I didn’t really have to even try—they are just there gurgling up.

Implementing ideas is a whole other topic, and one that usually does involve blood, sweat and sometimes a few tears. But paying attention to the places in our lives where we have ideas flowing without even trying—that is a trail marker worth noticing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Four Things I Learned From Wendy Kopp

Teach for America is a wildly successful nonprofit whose mission is to eradicate educational inequity. Its founder, Wendy Kopp, is worth listening to. Here are four things I learned about call, work and life in general from a recent interview with her. (New York Times Business Interview 7/5/2009)
  1. Desperate Funks Aren’t All Bad: It was in this uninspired state that Kopp moved to New York City to teach in the public schools, which led to her call: starting Teach for America. While desperation never feels good, it often leads to inspired choices. Some of the best spiritual and business teachers say the same thing—William Bridges speaks about the value of the neutral zone, and Richard Rohr writes about liminal space. (For a provocative exploration of this topic from the “living in the suburbs and raising two children” perspective, check out the movie Revolutionary Road.)

  2. Patience is a Part of It: Kopp makes the off-hand comment that things were “pretty rocky for the first decade.” That is decade, as in, 10 years. Just because we are doing work we are passionate about doesn’t mean it will come easy. Or quick.

  3. Boredom is a Bad Use of Energy: In reflecting on her work with Teach for America, she says, “I’ve spent not one bit of energy for 20 years trying to figure out what I really want to be doing.” I hadn’t thought much about how much energy it takes to keep yourself doing something that isn’t the right fit. One more reason to find use your energy for things you care about.

  4. Charisma is Overrated (Perseverance Isn’t): Kopp has found that the best teachers aren’t necessarily the most charismatic. The best teachers are ones who, “in the context of a challenge have the instinct to figure out what they can control, and to own it, rather than to blame everyone else in the system.” And they keep after it, rather than spending time blaming others or the situation. She sounds a lot like Jim Collins describing Level 5 leaders in his book Good to Great (Level 5 Leaders are more plow horse than show horse). This isn’t surprising, since she names his books as being most helpful to her.

Thanks to Wendy Kopp and all who have taught through Teach for America—the world is better because of you.