Posts Tagged ‘amok’

So your blocked, you’re stuck, the ideas just aren’t flowing. You want to create, maybe you need to create, but you just don’t know what to create. There’s a deadline looming and there’s just no idea, or maybe you just have some rare free time to create and no idea presents itself. What do you do?

Well let’s take a cue from our musician friends. Let’s start jamming. If you’ve ever hung out with a band, you know there is that time when they’re all trying to tune up and get ready to go. In the days before electronic tuners it was especially bad, a cacophony of different sounds as disparate instruments all try to get their sounds just right. It can be maddening but then something magical happens. Someone gets their sound right and decides to test it out by playing a riff they often just made up on the spot. Someone else likes it and goes along for the ride. Before long the other instruments pick it up and start to improvise and before long a song is born. It’s called jamming and I am sure that multitudes of great songs were written in this way.

How can you apply this to what you do? Well that depends on your discipline. Writers will often free-write. They just begin “riffing”—writing down whatever comes to mind until it eventually begins to coalesce into something useful and then they build on that. Similarly visual artists can start by doodling. The idea is to put off the pressures and the concerns—to clear your mind and just start making something, anything, to shake off the blockage.

You might even want to take the band approach, get a few of your fellow creatives together, start something and pass it on. This kind of group jam very closely mimics what happens in a band jam. As each person adds on, something useful will often emerge and even if it doesn’t, there is a good chance that the act of creating will break your creative block.

Next time you’re blocked, try jamming.

A long time ago I came up with the idea for a book called The Elephant Cookbook. Ironically, based on the topic, I never finished it. I came up with a format that was clunky and a cute way of presenting the material that I just couldn’t quite make work. It’s still in my idea file and I pray that it can come together one day, but I had other projects that were ready to go and succeed so I changed my focus to bring them to life.

The idea behind The Elephant Cookbook was based on the idea of working on multiple deadlines, constant pressure and a to do list that seems like it will never get done. The title was conceived from the old joke, “How to you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.”

I’ve been there often. There is so much work to be done and you don’t know how you’ll ever accomplish it all. It all gets very daunting and if you look at it as a huge pile, the discouragement can become crippling. But what would happen if you ate that elephant one bite at a time, i.e. What if you broke the project down into small manageable steps and then set about to check each of those steps off your list one at a time. All of the sudden, each step accomplished feels like a victory and the more you check off the better you feel until all that’s left of that “elephant” are the bones.

Breaking things down into manageable steps is often the best way to reach your dreams and accomplish your goals. Now I just need to work out the bugs in The Elephant Cookbook. Oh and by the way it is okay to put a stuck project aside. Just don’t make a habit of starting without finishing. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. Most of the time, you just need to take another bite and keep chewing.

One last thing, don’t leave God out of this process. He has come through for me when I was in over my head so many times it’s not even funny.

I’m pleased to announce that I am starting on working toward my Master of Divinity degree today with a concentration in Creative Ministry from Kingdom Bible College and Seminary. I’m looking forward to all this learning and hopefully the way it will stretch me creatively moving forward. Stay tuned.

This is my latest painting for use in my paint parties. I love doing this stuff, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Is it the best I can do? Not really, but I’m not designing for me. I am designing something that people may not paint all the time. I need to come up with something that a novice painter can do in two hours, and this is the most important part, while having a great time. I really enjoy making art and the big thing is I want others to start enjoying making art.

When you do a design, no matter what you’re designing, it’s important to consider who you’re designing for. I always think back to my first year art directing musicals at a local high school. In the first year, I designed everything in such a way that the only one who could do most of the work was me. The stuff came out pretty nice but I was stressed and the kids didn’t have that much fun. The following year I designed with the kids in mind and we all had a great time and we came up with something that was at least as good.

Of course in our commercial projects, considering the client in our design is urgent. Regardless of what we create, considering the end user is huge. Let’s draw as many people into creating as we possibly can.

This is a straight up business book and it is quite good and very thought provoking. You might wonder why an artist, speaker and minister of the Gospel would take the time to read such a book. Well as my friend Craig Smith often says, “Sometimes you can take a business book and baptize it for the church.” This is just such a book.

What do I mean? Well what do businesses and churches have in common? The primary element of commonality is people. Whether in business or church people are being led and more importantly empowered. Successful churches work because they empower their people to be all that they can be and as such many of the principles in this book are transferable, or at least I found them to be so.

This book is about new ways to do business and run companies. His chapters are in some cases counterintuitive, and yet Burkus cites real life companies, and some pretty major players at that, that are innovating in these areas to great success. Things like outlawing email. Who hasn’t fallen into the pit of spending so much time answering emails that you get no actual work done? One of my favorites is Putting Customers Second. This has been a peeve of mine since my days in retail management. If I had a dollar for every time I had to satisfy the unrealistic demands of often dishonest people, I could have quit that awful job. Now consider how motivated I was in those conditions and as a result, everyone suffered. In the church world, the people I work with and lead are largely volunteers. I need to take care of them and bless them and put them first. These are just two of the principles.

This is a great business book, but it’s more. Most of it’s principles are really transferrable to other aspects of life. I really didn’t know what to expect from this book but I took a chance on a review copy and I am very pleased that I did. If you are in leadership of any kind (and who isn’t) this book just might be worth your time.

in case you ever wonder how you can honor God, you do the best you an with what you have. Tim Tebow is a prime example of this. He gets national television and what does he do?

Well this.

You may not have that kind of platform. I don’t either, but what can you do with what you have been given.

Honor God with whatever you get.

Over the years I have been hesitant to share things, especially in church messages, that come from “secular” sources. I’ve since moderated on that to some degree. Here’s the truth, just because I disagree with someone in an area, or even a whole lot of areas doesn’t mean they have nothing to offer. I call it the broken clock theory, i.e. even a broken clock is right twice a day (unless it’s set to military time, then it’s only right once.)

At the end of the day, truth is truth and if I can use that truth to draw someone to the ultimate truth, I should probably use it. Of course there are exceptions. If something will lead someone astray, I need to use discernment and look for something else. After all, I am a leader and I have been entrusted with leading people to Christ. That is a responsibility that all who have it must take very seriously.