Sometimes the real problem is not the problem. And this year at Qideas the real content was not the content. What do I mean? When you line up dozens of speakers on various topics for an immersion learning event, often the patterns and perspectives bring the richest insight. If you are not familiar with Qideas, check it out, and more importantly, the learning event from which Q was adapted- TED. Here are my moleskin reflections on the flight home:

#1 The day belongs to the sound bite savvy. At Q there is a visible timer, and speakers have 18, 9, or 3 minutes to share their idea. Two lucky people get an entire 36 minutes. Some people made fun of it, some people ignored it and some people aced it.   The bottom-line is that some 3-minute presentations where unmistakably more powerful than 36-minute ones. Taking the time to refine and articulate your ideas is critical. If you can't deliver the entire message in 20 seconds, you're not ready to give it at all. 

#2 Cross a boundary to birth a passion. The conviction that fuels a life of significant service is often birthed at a "boundary crossing." You know when you have experienced a crossing like this (ethnic, social-economic, etc.) because you never see life the same: the short-term trip to Haiti, adopting a child, really befriending someone of a different race or sexual orientation. The list goes on. At Q you're drenched with pleas for social action from nuclear arms to Tom's shoes; from to "do good" coffee, to fathering the fatherless. While I appreciate the value of their cause-orientation, I think the effectiveness of involving people is found wanting. For example, many people passionately push the "boundary crossing" that marked their own soul, rather than helping people see their own boundary opportunities.

#3 Grow your mind by deconstructing your ideas. One highlight of Q was watching Brian McLaren and Scot McKnight dialogue on some hot theological topics.  Much attention was given to the definition of the gospel. One problem as leaders, is our ability to live with tons of packed assumptions in the words that are our most important words, like "gospel" or "salvation." To deconstruct these words, is to trace the layering of ideas that hundreds of years of history and culture form.  In addition we can scrutinize our own life history to better understand why we believe what we believe. For example, McLaren challenged the audience by asserting the Old Testament idea of  salvation as NOT including the notion of eternal life. McKnight, reminded us how easy it is to take our understanding of the gospel out of its narrative context for the people of Israel.

#4 The bigger the context the better the insight.  The speakers who added the most value have some contextual expansion to leverage. The greater context may be geographic (world perspective), historical (bringing time-forged insights on a single topic), or specific combinations of technical disciplines.  The problem with expanding you context is that it always challenges the stasis our your current perspective.   

What's my take-away?  These are my four questions:

  • Where have I not taken time to sound-bite my most important ideas?

  • What is the next boundary that God wants me to cross?

  • What are the most common words in my leadership and what assumptions do they contain?

  • How can I enlarge my context to bring more insight into my calling? 

Topics: Date: May 2, 2010 Tags: #Qideas / Brian McLaren / Gabe Lyons / How to Learn / Q Conference / Scot McKnight