Hope is Not a Strategy, One is Not a Team, Ideas are Cheap
Wine and Wisdom ... and Interrelativity

Entrepreneurship and Religion: Moses' Startup Experience

I attended an inspiring church service at the Northgate Church recently.  The primary motivation for my attendance was to explore the possibilities of church groups as a target market for Interrelativity, but I got far more out of the service than market research results.

Larry LaMotte, a friend from NWEN and a member of the church, had suggested churches in general -- and his church in particular -- as a potential venue for our proactive displays, given that one of the missions of most churches is in perfect alignment with Interrelativity's mantra: to help people relate.  I have not attended any church regularly for decades, and so this prospect had never occured to me, but after a 3-hour lunch meeting earlier that week with Larry and church pastors Don Ross and Dan Metteer, I could see the light.

That Sunday, I attended the church -- whose mantra is "discover, trust, love" -- to observe the setting and common practices, and get a sense for whether and how a proactive display might fit into and enhance attendees' experience of the church -- and each other.  I won't detail all the results here, except to note that the church employs multimedia far beyond anything I experienced in the Catholic church I attended growing up, and so bringing some of that online content onto a display in response to whoever is in attendance seems like a reasonable stretch ... and I believe it would help the church and its members share their stories more effectively, thereby helping to attract and retain new members.

The unexpected bonus of my visit was Don's teaching during the service, which was based on Exodus 18, in which Moses was feeling overwhelmed by his responsibilities and is advised by his father-in-law, Jethro, on how to better distribute the load.  Don's Sunday presentation, combined with our earlier meeting, wherein he noted that his unofficial title might be pastorpreneur, helped me understand the entrepreneurial nature of Moses' experience, leading a startup of some 3 million people.

I certainly wouldn't want to draw too much of an analogy between Moses' experience and my own (leading a startup of one), but I can relate to the frustration of feeling that I have to do it all myself, as well as the sense of impending burnout.  Given the differences in our respective organizations, I don't see how I can directly apply Jethro's prescription of designating rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds and rulers of tens, but I certainly see the wisdom of Jethro's advice in being able (and willing) to delegate different responsibilities to different people.

And this brings me to another observation made by Don during the service: people generally aren't really good at a lot of things -- in fact, typically only one or two -- so it's important to figure out what it is you do well, and determine how to use those gifts to make significant contributions.  This notion reminds me of the slogan "If it's not your genius, it's not your job" that a friend told me is a key component of IBI Global's approach to building a successful business.  It also brings to mind a pearl of the wisdom expressed in a book I blogged about recently, "How Full is Your Bucket?", but which I omitted from my earlier post, where co-author Tom Rath is relating experiences from his childhood:

A popular saying in my home was this age-old maxim: "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig." As a young student, I found this quite liberating. I didn't have to try to be good at everything. Instead, I was able to strive for greatness in my areas of natural talent.

Perhaps this collection of wisdom from various sources offers a key to help resolve my ongoing dilemma about accepting myself as I am and yet wanting to be the best I can be, and my strong resistance to accepting Don Miguel Ruiz' fourth agreement to "Always do your best" (I can always see how I could have done better).

Returning to Don's teaching, he offered a four step "frustration antidote", inviting us to focus on our true skill sets, get clear on priorities, stop worrying about impressing people, and develop a short-term plan for determining how we can best contribute to organization(s) in which we participate -- wisdom I will seek to apply to my own venture ... and life.

[Although I can't find Don's teaching from February 12 on the Northgate Church web site any more, there are some related insights shared on another web site associated with Exodus 18, "The Tyranny of the Urgent".]

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