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What I’m Learning About Telling My Story

I’m learning that discovering your story is a bit like searching Google. One particular story will result in thousands of details, but it’s up to me to figure out which of those details is important to the story.

For instance, I’ve been writing a short story about my experience trying to get to India to speak at a conference. Those seven days of hellacious travel yielded thousands of details and micro-stories. They’re vivid in my mind and I’m tempted to tell them all. (more…)


Creativity Can’t Live in Apathy

The day my creativity died. I was working for my church. And I was starting to get tired of the arguments I was having. Staff meetings were filled with people who disagreed with me. My ideas were shot down left and right. It seemed people just weren’t getting it.

So I gave up. I decided I’d sit back in my seat, check out, and play some games on my phone during the meeting. If I did it right, I knew it would look like I was taking notes.

That’s the day my creativity died at my church. As soon as I let apathy creep in, I stopped caring about my job and I stopped caring about our level of creativity. (more…)


Criticism Hurts, So Stop Listening

Realize this: We live in a world where thousands of people can instantly give you feedback on anything you do.

A few years ago, you could write a book, and only the people who really hated you would take the time to write you hate mail. Now, anyone can hop on Twitter and thrash you to pieces without even breaking a sweat. It’s a new world we live in with unlimited connectivity. But we weren’t meant to hear all that negativity. (more…)


The Blank Canvas for Your Mind

I must admit. Wednesday’s blog post was sort of phoned in. It was actually a chapter from an unpublished manuscript. I posted it because I couldn’t think of anything to post on Wednesday.

Before I made the decision, I was wracking my brain trying to think of something I could write about. How did I do that? I turned on the TV. I ran while listening to an audio book. I turned on my favorite music.

Figure this, though: No ideas came. None of those entertaining activities gave me any ideas. Who’d have thought? (more…)


Defend or Act

Stop. Pick one. You can either (1) defend your idea to everyone you encounter, or you can (2) act on your idea. Unless you’re one of the characters from Twilight, you probably won’t have enough time or energy to do both.

We all have jobs, families, and responsibilities. And chances are, your dream has to come in between all those things. You can’t drop the ball in those areas in order to follow your dream.

That means your time is limited. You don’t have enough time or energy to act and defend those actions. You have to choose one.

Last year I started a new business to help bloggers. It’s a stock photo site that gives bloggers unlimited photos for a small monthly fee. It was a genius idea that I knew many of my friends would be interested in. I was so eager to share the idea with everyone I knew. (more…)


Keeping a Long-Term Perspective

I swear I’m getting classically conditioned to feel rage every time I hear smooth jazz. Seriously. The only time I ever listen to smooth jazz is when I’m on hold with a poorly run company that’s making me wait while they figure out why they screwed up.

Wednesday morning I was on hold with HostGator, my old host. They let my domain name expire. Even though I set it to auto-renew and verified this five times before the expiration date, their system screwed up. So for the next thirty minutes they tried to figure out what was wrong while keeping me on hold. Pure rage.

I actually missed out on over 10,000 page views on Wednesday because of their screwup. That’s a big deal. (more…)


Why I Have So Many Projects

I’ve found the most successful things I do have incredible focus. Think about it. I’m not sure I could get more specific than that. And that’s by far the most successful website I run. The next most successful is another incredibly focused project.

I find that whenever I try to incorporate all of my interests or thoughts into one project, it usually gets passed over without a second glance.

But that leaves me with this dilemma: I’m not a focused person. I have so many different thoughts and concepts floating in my head at any given time. What do I do with all this creative energy? I start new projects—very focused projects. (more…)


One Small Act = Big Effects

Most of a person’s future is lost in the little things. Call it a ripple effect, butterfly effect, whatever. But your small actions each day have a huge impact on your longterm trajectory.

We’ve seen this in the negative. A young child makes the decision to steal a pack of of gum. He gets away with it. That decision opened a door to bigger and bigger things. That kid arrives at age 40 and finds himself in jail, never realizing he could have become a congressman. One small act.

The ripple effect works in the negative. But it also works in the positive. (more…)


Going to the Next Level

I’ve discovered that life doesn’t work like a sloping curve. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you won’t keep reaching new heights. You’ll eventually plateau.

Instead, life works more like a set of stairs. You act one way, and you reach a new level. You’ll stay at that level, though, until you try something new. Then it’s onto the next level and time for another change.

It’s like this with churches. The things you do to facilitate growing from a 200 to a 500-member church won’t be the same things you need to do to transition from a 500 to a 1,000-member church. Your approach has to change as you go through these different levels. (more…)


The Danger in Your Dreams

My pastor says something that rings with so much truth: Jesus is the goal. Daniel Villarreal is a visionary guy. He understands dreams. He understands risk. He’s living a life that’s all about that. But he understands that ultimately, the dream isn’t the end result. Jesus is the end result. He’s the completion.

There’s a huge danger in your dream. The danger is that you think your dream is the end of it all. “If I somehow attain this goal, I will have arrived.” Consequently, you can learn to hate the journey toward your dream. You can despise the times where your dream seems far away.

And you completely miss that Jesus is giving you an opportunity to draw closer to Him. (more…)