Posts Tagged ‘idea

16
Feb
21

Something from Nothing

For some time now I have had a soft spot in my heart for entrepreneurs.

Take Frederick W. Smith, for example. While a student in the business school at Yale University, Smith wrote a paper that outlined a wacky idea for an overnight package delivery service. 

Smith got a “C” on the paper, along with his professor’s gentle reminder that the assignment was to write about a business idea that actually had a chance of being implemented.

Undaunted, young Mr. Smith decided he really believed in what he had written and decided to go out and make it happen. The business Smith described in that “C” paper turned out to be the blueprint for the company that is known today as Federal Express… the company Smith still serves as chairman and CEO.

Through my undergraduate years, I remember hearing the stories of the steam engine stoker turned insurance salesman turned filling station operator named Harlan Sanders who – in his spare time – tinkered around with different combinations of herbs and spices and a method of pressure-frying chicken that eventually took America by storm under the brand name Kentucky Fried Chicken

I was fascinated by the tale of the milkshake mixer salesman named Ray Kroc who helped a couple of brothers named McDonald franchise their simple-menu hamburger stand concept that ultimately created an entirely new category of restaurant.

As I began to study them, I noticed that most entrepreneur stories seemed to follow a similar arc. They each seemed to begin with a restless spirit and a curious mind trapped inside a dull, one-dimensional job. That mind asks – and keeps asking – “What if…?” somehow impervious to all of the voices of reason that counsel the safe path. 

Bold leaps are taken… usually with disastrously disappointing initial results. Nevertheless, the Restless Spiritsoldiers on. He or she makes major and minor adjustments to the vision before hazarding the climb back up the ladder to the high dive platform. Friends, family members, distant relatives, all offer The Restless Spirittheir sincerely considered advice, saying that it is probably time to discard the pipe dream and get back to work on something proven and practical.

But then, in a scene reminiscent of the movie Castaway (starring Tom Hanks), the tinder of that ridiculous idea suddenly begins to smoke… we see a tiny flame somewhere down there at the bottom. That tiny flame grows and grows until it finally becomes an epic bonfire of business success. 

Or maybe it doesn’t. Ever.

But as is the case with most entrepreneurs I have ever met, the lack of a tangible result does not stop or even slow them down. They just keep plugging away.

In that sense, the instinct to entrepreneurism seems to have a lot in common with the instinct toward art. Somewhere, somehow in the deep recesses of the mind of the artist (and/or the entrepreneur), a seed is dropped. There our little seed finds fertile soil, moisture, warmth, and an energizing spark. The seed coat is broken and the radicle, the plumule, and the cotyledons (yes… I Googled all of those words) begin to unfold, gasping hungrily toward the rays of the morning sun. 

The artist/entrepreneur nurtures the tender shoot, strategically clearing its path of obstacles and threats until it begins to demonstrate a more robust grip on its surroundings. 

And in the process, each of these experiences the sheer joy of creating SOMETHING out of NOTHING. 

But you know what else? It is also the joy that motivated God to create YOU and ME and our amazing WORLD in the first place. It is also the joy that God planted within the breast of every one of us. It is the joy that we are each invited to experience… whether we see ourselves as artists or entrepreneurs or not. 

When the Bible tells us we are made, “… in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27), it means that we are endowed with the same core traits as the One who made us. It means that if God is love, WE are love. It means if God is about relationships, WE are about relationships. It means if God creates, WE create.

What will you create today?

Abundant blessings;

02
Apr
19

Padless living

“Sometimes life feels like playing football with no pads.”

–       R. Brown, 2019

Ferocious tackleIn a time long ago and far away, I played football. The American version, that is. The kind that requires helmets, shoulder pads, thigh pads, kneepads, cleats, and (sometimes) rib pads.

There was never a doubt in my mind about the need for all that padding. The player-on-player contact is always forceful and unforgiving. The point – after all – is for me to smash into the other guy with all my might and knock him down to the ground.

Fortunately for me, the playing phase of my football career ended in junior high school after I suffered first a concussion and then a severely twisted ankle. The closest I get to a real football game now is on my living room couch in front of the TV screen.

I know, I know… some of you tough guys are reading that last line and intoning the word “Wimp!” toward your computer screen right now.

And I am totally OK with that.

While I have successfully avoided having my bell rung, ACL torn, or femur snapped on the gridiron all these years, I must confess I have not been quite as successful avoiding injury on the field of LIFE.

I have discovered that sometimes – as the wise philosopher at the top of this page remarked – the game of life bears a striking resemblance to playing football without the benefit of pads.

Sometimes we have an idea… an idea that seems truly inspired and brilliant to us. We take our precious idea, excitedly put it out there in front of other people, and then watch it get tackled, and smashed, and pummeled to bits.

At other times we become vulnerable toward another person… opening up the depths of our heart and soul to them in a way that leaves us truly exposed. And then occasionally – not every time, happily – that person rewards our vulnerability with scorn or (even worse) indifference.

Or we might choose to adopt a cause that is virtuous and noble – capable (at least in our mind) of rendering a genuine, positive change in the world. We wave the flag, beat the drum, call out to rally the troops, only to find ourselves met with a deafening, hurtful silence.

It can feel quite a bit like football without pads.

Sometimes those body blows are instructive learning moments… shedding light on a heretofore-unseen weakness in my idea/feeling/cause. So I use the pain of that moment as a guide to my efforts to “shore up” that which was flimsy and inadequate.

At other times though, my response to those experiences of “full contact rejection” is to retreat to my corner, cower, lick my wounds, and make a vow to never again put myself out there like that.

OK… full disclosure; my first impulse upon rejection is almost ALWAYS to choose the retreating, cowering, licking, vowing option.

Getting back out there again after getting your block knocked off is a really hard thing to do. You know EXACTLY what that bodyslam feels like and you are not anxious to repeat the experience.

And I don’t know if this observation is actually true or not, but it seems to me as if more and more people are lining up these days, taking aim, and eagerly waiting to blast away at risk takers.

Sometimes that pounding is enough to convince you that the sidelines of life is the best place to spend the game… safely spectating.

But I hope you don’t.

I hope you will trust Jesus when he assures you, “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33, NRSV).

I hope you will keep putting yourself out there… padless and vulnerable.

I hope you will choose to learn from the pain of those bumps and bruises and maybe even come to give THANKS for them.

I hope you will never accept the lie that tells you that WATCHING life is the same as LIVING it.

The world needs your gifts…

… even if we don’t always act like we do.

 

Abundant blessings;

30
Apr
18

My Truth

brilliant ideaIt’s finally happened!

That million dollar idea I have been sitting here waiting to pop into my head JUST DID!

POP!

So before I dash down to the U.S. Patent Office and secure this brilliant brainstorm under legal lock and key, I thought I would first share it with YOU.

Pinkie swear you won’t steal it?

OK… good.

It is really an idea for an entire LINE of products rather than a single solitary item. Admittedly I have only come up with two products for the line so far. But I am sure more will be forthcoming.

All I have to do is sit here perfectly still and wait for The Muse to descend.

So… the product line is called My Truth. And the two products in the line so far are 1.) a bathroom scale and, 2.) a blood pressure cuff.

The inspiration for the My Truth line came from my own personal frustration with the dogged tendency of the “traditional” models of these products to regularly disappoint me.

You might also be familiar with this same kind of disappointment in your life. If so, well, my friend, that disappointment is EXACTLY why you are an ideal customer for either the My Truth bathroom scale or the My Truth blood pressure cuff!

(Cue generic, accentless TV Announcer voice here…) “Tired of those pesky ‘accurate’ readings on your scale and blood pressure cuff that keep reminding you that you need to cut down on desserts, exercise more, lower your sodium intake or adopt generally healthier habits?

“Then you need MY TRUTH! The bathroom scale/blood pressure cuff programmed to give you only GOOD NEWS!

“Just set the read-out for the results you seek and VOILA! See that awesome answer EVERY TIME you step on the scale and/or pump up the cuff!”

“Gone are the days of feeling guilty about falling short of your health goals! With My Truth, you’re always a WINNER! Call now and order yours! Taxes and shipping extra.”

So… whaddya think?

Should I start shopping for that Maui beachfront property now, or should I visit the Lamborghini dealership first?

Of course, this is a “patently” ridiculous idea. I say this acknowledging that I have seen other ideas I labeled as “ridiculous” go on to make gigantic piles of money for their originators (“Pet Rocks” or “Hatchimals” anyone?)

The truth is: you and I need regular and ample doses of truth in our lives… even when that truth disappoints or displeases us.

We need an unmoving north star by which to navigate… acknowledging that our own subjective ability to stay on course is fatally flawed.

But where do we find that North Star? Can we rely on friends? Or spouses? Or family members? On our “guts”?

In many cases, the answer is probably “YES.”

But not in every case.

As far as I know, there is only one source that we can count on to be unerringly true every time we consult it… whether we like that truth or not.

But unlike the friends or family members who might drop a Truth Bomb on us now and then, we can be assured this “truth dispenser” is motivated ONLY by love.

Every. Single. Time.

Jesus said, “… you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”(John 8:32, NRSV).

But he never said the truth wouldn’t sting a little bit now and then.

 

Abundant blessings;




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