I got a text on Wednesday morning offering me a ticket to the WIllow Creek Global Leadership Summit. (I love this conference. I just failed to get my early bird ticket and to ask off work. I really didn’t think it was in the cards for me to go.)
“SURE!!” I replied. “What do I need to do to “earn it??”
“Just post on your social platforms your experiences.”
(DUH. I would do that even without asking!) I thought.
So I went out on a limb, asked my boss Casey Valiant at Signarama if I can ditch two important events and basically take two days off.
He didn’t even hesitate. “Sounds good,” he said. Part of me thinks he might be doing the happy dance for two days of quiet, but I really know that he cares. They all do - the Valiants are just those kind of people. They care about our personal growth as much as our professional growth.
The first thing I took note of was the companies who bought tickets and paid to send their leaders to a 2 day Christian-influenced conference. Companies like Springleaf and FC Tucker, who sent over 20 people each. Others like Berry Plastics, Bethel Manor, Bob's Gym, The Dream Center, Flanders Electric, GAF Roofing, Heritage Petroleum, Jacobsville Join-In, Old National Bank, Victoria National, and Walther's Golf n Fun all sent leaders to this event.
The second was people like Sally and Dan who took vacation time to make sure that they could be here.
I had PAGES of notes and tweeted EVERYTHING. Had to earn my ticket right? If you want my notes, go back and look at my twitter feed for those two days. If you want condensed notes, check out Trey McClain’s blog. He is the pastor of One Life West and my ticket sponsor.
During the last session. Craig Groeschel, of LifeChurch.tv, killed it. He gave an example of how and why as your organization grows, your mindset has to change. He then offered 5 areas for us to improve.
1) Build your confidence.
2) Expand your connections.
3) Improve your competence.
4) Strengthen your character.
5) Increase your commitment.
He was very clear, we could only expand one area. Not 3, not 4 - ONE. He asked us to write all 5 down and be thinking on which one we would choose. He then went on to explain each.
As I listened, I thought “These are all really good. It’s hard to choose. Let me see. I think I am a good networker and have some strong connections. That’s my tag line after all. “Making connections to build community.” I can knock that one off the list.” I then listened to all the others as he explained.
Now came the time of truth. What to pick? As he called them off, we were supposed to stand. As he called off # 2 “Expand your connections,” I jumped up out of my seat like a kindergartner who had the answers. Wait What? That was at the bottom of the list?? Well, OK.
Expand your connections, it is. So to make it stick, I tweeted:
As soon as it was over, I rushed over to Trey. I thanked him for his part in what felt like something BIG brewing. I saw people waiting to talk to him, so I asked him to pray for me and moved back to start packing up. That’s when I realized Dan Sully was waiting to talk to me, not Trey.
He came up and pointed out a young gentleman, and told me we needed to meet. I then asked him if he had seen my last tweet.
“No, was it about international issues?” By then, the young man had made his way over and told me that it was nice to meet me. Dan had told him about me, and felt we had to meet. I shared with him what I just experienced. I told him that it’s not often you can be so sure that God wants you to meet someone.
“It’s VERY nice to meet you.” We continued our conversation as I packed up to leave.
Later that afternoon, I called Dale Beaver, my pastor, at Christian Fellowship Church. I shard the story and asked for prayer.
As I was on the phone with him, I remembered the first time he really counseled and prayed with me about my business. It was on a Monday. He preached on the Sunday before. (He wasn’t Senior Pastor at the time, so he didn’t preach every Sunday.) I still have his sermon notes.
“God made you to walk among those you love
and those you don't yet know.”
Words he spoke in February of 2010 have been playing on endless loop like a bad 80’s song you can’t get out of your head.
I don’t have a clue where this mission/quest/challenge to expand my connections is going to take me. I don’t know how this story ends. But let the journey begin as I publicly commit to connect to more people on a deeper level, and open my heart to possibilities.