Today was the first day of the Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit. I was excited to attend the South Barrington campus and sit a stone’s throw away from some of the most progressive, adventurous, and dynamic leaders on this planet (but who would throw a stone at such humble and helpful folks?). Thought leaders, pastors, writers, professors, politicians, and the list goes on! Being at the hub of this globally-broadcast event is a privilege. Below are some of my thoughts of today’s speakers.
Len Schlesinger teaches entrepreneurs to be successful entrepreneurs. He says “believe in the future by creating it first.” This reminds me of the Mahatma Gandhi quote “be the change you want to be in the world.” The idea Len was getting across was that the future cannot be predicted, extrapolated, or guessed about. We are all able and encouraged to make what we want to see happen in the world rather than wonder what everything is going to look like.
I think the latter is a commonly-held position, whether conscious or unconscious. “Let’s see how this turns out”. Why not act on what we want? And if we don’t know what we want, let’s take action to find out what it might be.
Which brings me to another one of his main points: “Don’t let not knowing what you’re going to do get in the way of what you’re going to do next.” What this means to me is to not let the perfect get in the way of the realistic. As a chronic dreamer, this is my blessing and my curse. The excitement of dreaming and visioning can get me so caught up that I forget to actually take some real, solid steps forward!
Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey, was moving for me. I’ve heard other political officials speak in the past and Booker was a fresh breath of authenticity and vulnerability. He shared humbling experiences that have led him to lead with a servant’s heart. Highlighted in his talk was the popular quote, “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me” and the room was obviously moved to believe that by offering up an enthusiastic standing ovation.
Brenda Salter McNeil also moved the crowd to their feet. Speaking from the story of the Pentacost, she expressed that she doesn’t want to read about amazing Spirit-filled events happen, she wants to be there to experience them. I reflected on my own tendency to want to watch and listen to others who are making big changes in our world rather than taking action steps myself or in my community.
Seth Godin followed and now I know why he’s as well-known as he is. Anyone could learn quite a bit about communication from him. Godin’s premise is that the era of the “worker” is ending and the age of the “artist” is beginning. Technology and connectivity fuel today’s markets and attention, and creativity is now the catalyst that fosters change. Assembly lines and industrialization have moved our society quite a bit forward, but according to Godin individuals are meeting the needs of greater specificity with greater ease now.
No wonder personal growth and development is in such demand right now. It is the business of becoming more myself – and there is no better way to be an artist, an individual, and a leader.
I had to leave for the final session with Steven Furtick due to a previous obligation, but I am sure he was just as informative, challenging, and inspirational as all the other speakers. Looking forward to day two!
To see more great notes on the Summit, check out Andrew Mercer’s blog. He has been liveblogging from each session.