Thursday, May 15, 2008

Seth Godens - "The Dip"

I went into town for the day yesterday and caught up with a couple of mates and had my haircut (you should see how different it looks.) I caught up with Benn Crawford at Supreme Coffee to get some Ethiopian Yergechaffe Coffee and we had a long talk about our favourite subjects of sociology, marketing, human potential and life. He recommended that I go off and read “The Dip” by Seth Goden. Benn would say that Goden is a mentor of his, I can see why, Goden can get his points across in clear and concise ways, and like any good marketer he can sell you his idea.

The Dip
The Dip is a book about assessing when is the right time to quit. Goden argues in his book that one of the major aspects of the human psyche is to quit when we begin to feel a sense of pain. When we pick up an instrument and start playing for the first time, the baby steps are real easy and we find that we receive affirmation for the little work we put in, we hear that we are a natural, then it goes into a dip, where we put in lots and lots of energy with little or no return. Those are successful are those who can go through the dip then see the rewards at the other end.

One key idea that came out of this book is that we should strive to be the best in our own sphere of influence and where we are working. Striving to be the best rather than being average is the key to success and gaining worth in ourselves and the world around us.

Goden looks at three different curves, one being to the dip and another being the cul de sac curve. The Cul de sac is a curve where you are putting in energy and constantly receiving the same results. This is the case in which you work in a dead end job, the energy you put in gets you know where, you are being offered no ways forward and there is no chance of further success. At this point you should quit. Goden argues that even when it seems you have been in a successful roles, at times you should quit because the development that you can get from moving on into another sphere of influence is greater.

Value Systems
Godens work contains a lot of truth for how we should move into success. One issue I would see with a few ways Godens ideas work is the value systems that we are driven off. I do think it is important to quit at times, I’ve done this in my own life, particularly quiting from jobs which were bringing me no where so I could focus on the bigger picture, those that would allow me to achieve in my sphere of influence. But if we go out of a “whats best for me” strategy of quitting, our quitting can be ultimately destructive to individuals and friends around us. This particularly can occur when we put our economic or personal security above others. I have a view that how we view success needs to be put in light of what is best for the whole and how we can better society and humanity. There will be positive benefits that come from this for the person, actually there will be a deep sense of worth and value from this as well. By playing to our strengths and learning when to not quit we can benefit society a lot more. We are allowed to quit things that don’t bring substantial benefit to the whole.

Intention, Church and Life

The ideas contained in “The Dip” flow into one of my favourite principles of life; “The Principle of Intentionality”. The principle of intentionality is that we should live in view of fulfilling our values and letting our strengths as individuals shine. For me the central values that drive me have to be to love the lord with all my heart mind and strength and to love those around me, these are my central values – the driving value the comes off this is that I intentionally live in a way that makes the world a better place, then comes off these are my strengths/personality.

At the moment I’m personally going through a period of self-discovery, rediscovering and discovering the skills, talents, personality that God has given me so I can best play to my strengths in the environments that I serve and work in. I am trying new things and not trying to box myself in, but also wanting to become aware of who I am as a person.

The Cul De Sac and Individuals

I want to come back to the Cul De Sac again and talk about it. I believe like Seth that when you realise you are in a Cul De Sac you need to quit and quit fast. I have come to a conclusion recently in my own journey that the worst place to be is just existing. This is not what God intended. Existing is a place where you just do things because that’s what you have always done, with no value, with no reason. You just do it because you feel you have to, even though there are no benefits at all from doing it. I have seen this with friends in jobs which they should know are dead end and they should have quit a long time ago. They have so much more potential that working in the dead end job, but they stay there for security and safety. I did this for a long period in one organisation, staying there and not risking going out on a limb. What I have learned is when you trust your strengths you can risk a lot more that you thought. There is a truth, we have to come to know ourselves, become self aware of our own values and our own strengths, otherwise we are going to be shaped by the culture around us – for good or for ill.

I know I am being humanistic here, but I do not think this goes against the heart of God, God wants to see us be courageous in who we are and our sphere of influence for the benefit of the whole of humanity, God wants us to be wholly aware of who we are (that is, who he created us to be), and he wants us to be whole. By allowing ourselves to use our strengths and becoming what God intended us to be, we honour God and give him room to make us whole.

The Church and the Cul De Sac
The dip also is about the success of organisations. Organisations themselves can get to dead ends in what they are doing. I believe this is one of the issues at the heart of the decline of the church in the west. Though I think its worse than this, some churches are in decline because they have lost their value system, or they are watering down their value system and are being led into syncretism, but many Churches are focusing their energy and talents in the wrong way, into a model of church which leads to few results for lots of capital and energy.

Where Mosaic and the Missional Church is
Mosaic Wellington is probably lying somewhere in the Dip and not in the upward point, we are still small and having to put in a lot of energy to find out our talents and form and value systems and what we are about. The good thing is we have some organisational savy, we are definitely playing to our strengths (particularly in the area of good food) and the desire to be hospitable and living it out is rubbing off on our guests. These are early steps in the journey. Mike Brantley mentioned on his blog that it takes an average of five years to journey with someone for them to come to know God, so our dip may be five to seven years before we see the size of mosaic grow exponentially and then multiply (probably 10 years, though I could be wrong on this point as well.) We have to quit the things that are not working (for example, we had to quit the loft as we were putting to much energy into it at the time), we have to be intentional on the things we put our energy into and realise what may actually limit our potential to grow and reach those around us (so for us this means that we don’t see having a church building is an ultimate aim, there are benefits to having a building, but a building constrains you and the mission then becomes about upkeep on the building rather than the mission of God in this world.

We are a young part of a larger movement; we can see Mosaic LA which is past the dip (for it the dip was when Erwin took the church on Bradey. Even though the church on Bradey was a successful large Church, it was at the end of its growth and had lost its “edge.” It had got itself near to a Cul de Sac situation. Erwin came in and had to change the mindset of the church members – meaning that they lost a huge number of once committed people and he had to build the ethos of Mosaic from the ground up. This period was painful for the Church, but has meant that Mosaic is much larger than what it was in the past, having a global reach into the world and reaching many lost people within the city of LA. Seeing Mosaic past the dip gives us hope of what we can be, if we play of our strengths and keep to our ethos. I love Wellington and want it to be an even greater place to live, where dreams are lived and fulfilled lives. Where people know they belong and know they have worth. I want people to come to know Jesus because he can bring wholeness to our once broken selves and lives. I want my life to be a source of faith love and hope to those around me.

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