living through it…

by vernsanders on December 23, 2009

When we left off yesterday, I was talking about two meetings that happened about a year ago which changed my life, and my outlook on it…

The first of those meetings happened in early December, 2008. At that point I had just found out that my job was being eliminated at the church, the economy was in meltdown, and Obama had just been elected and nobody knew what that meant, exactly.

After sitting and thinking for a while, I made one phone call, to a person that I knew, but not well. What I did know about him, though, was that I thought he needed help. I also knew that he was someone who moved in different circles than I did (where I was private, he was social, for instance). I had a similar meeting in 1983, when I decided to come back to California after 10 years teaching in Canada. Different person, but the same sort of meeting: I think you need help. I think I can help you. Now is the time to figure out if that might work. Time is short. Think about it.

So…one phone call. One meeting…one full day…in a cluttered office on neutral ground, borrowed for the occasion.

From that meeting came a napkin business plan for 3 clearly defined large projects. Scratch that…huge projects…any one of which was a full plate. We looked at how his and my businesses intersected, where the opportunities were, how technology had changed and was changing the marketplace, and much more.

The format of the meeting was simple, based upon a plan that I had found useful: I told him all my current situation, plans, and dreams for 90 minutes, and he spent an hour responding. After lunch, we repeated the process with him doing the telling and me doing the responding. We saved the final 90 minutes for “what have we got here?” I highly recommend this format, by the way…

The second meeting was brokered by a close friend. He arranged for me to talk with and meet the pastor of another church. That meeting led to a couple more, but I think the pastor and I both knew during the first meeting that his and his church’s needs and my gifts and strengths were a very good fit. In the end, I was not out of church work a single day, because this meeting led to my starting at this new church immediately. It has been a wonderful match. The people there are just great, and everything about my serving there has been positive, and fruitful.

The “big” things about these two meetings are small things:

  • being proactive in the face of what seems like a crisis
  • being in and with a community of people rather than going it alone
  • thinking and planning before blindly going forward
  • being willing to change course without abandoning core values and strengths

I had one more meeting, which came as a result of the two I’ve already talked about. That came in the spring, when I was convinced that participating in social media was necessary and useful to build upon the ideas and plans that came about as a result of the two meetings. Again, I met with someone who knew more about it than I did…and little did he know what he was unleashing as a result of that meeting…

More on that tomorrow, when I look ahead and tell you why I am so optimistic…

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