Life Posts

The Opportunity of Surprise

golf ball 1 - James Friedmangolf ball 2 - James Friedman

It becomes increasingly easy to manage your reputation and project a false self in our growing world of social media. The me you see is the me I want you to see. Sure, the duality sometimes catches up with people like we’ve seen recently with the unfortunately named former Congressman, Anthony Weiner. But far more often we project what we’d like and nobody is the wiser for it. While the consequences rarely catch up to each person individually, we pay the fee collectively. We see this in a number of areas.

Our lack of trust,

our skepticism,

our avoidance of vulnerability,

our nagging insecurities,

our need to impress others.

You might argue that these are all normal human behaviors. While that is true, our world of technology has sped up our use of them. That’s why we now have a new opportunity unlike ever before: surprise people with what’s on the inside.


The Bark of the Poodle Pt.2


Don’t you love the feeling you get when you are looking for something for a really long time, so long that you’ve given up actively looking for it, and then suddenly you find it? Me too.

Almost a year and a half ago I wrote a post about a quote that I’ve heard my dad say from time to time. It’s been one of those statements that I’ve continued to see the validity of as the years go by.

It is never the doberman who says to the poodle, “I too am a dog.”

The quote captures how insecure people try and convince those around them of what they have while people who are truly secure don’t need to convince you of anything.

My dad had credited C.S. Lewis with the quote but I’d never been able to find it. Until recently that is. As I was reading through A Year With C.S. Lewis this month I came across a passage from his book called The Screwtape Letters. While it doesn’t have this wording exactly, the premise is certainly there. Here is how Lewis explains the idea:


The Legos are Angry

Legoman TattooI recently heard that evidently, our beloved Lego men are angry. Consider the findings from this article:

In a study of 3,655 figures produced between 1975 and 2010, Dr Christoph Bartneck, a robot expert at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, said the manufacturer appeared to be moving towards more conflict-based themes in its toys.

At first, this seems laughable. Our smiling Lego men have turned to angry Lego men? Probably doesn’t mean much. But consider some of the commentary that Bartneck provided as he reflected on the study:

It is our impression that the themes have been increasingly based on conflicts. Often a good force is struggling with a bad one.

The facial expressions are not directly matched to good and evil. Even the good characters suffer in their struggle and the villains can have a smug expression. In any case, the variety of faces has increased considerably.

It boils down to one word: conflict. (more…)

The Smell You Can’t Smell

Watermark Church - Dallas, Texas

Watermark Church (click to zoom)

A handful of us from Central visited six churches in Dallas last week. We were researching building ideas for the next worship center at our Gilbert campus. Two of these churches stood out to me.

One of them, who will remain nameless, left us with a very bad impression. As we walked into their worship center, the aroma of mustiness washed over us. The damp air weighted upon us with a heavy thickness. My mind flashed back to my junior high locker room. Our guide, an executive member of their church staff, proudly showed us around. While we each stole glances of shock from one another, it was apparent our guide didn’t smell anything.

That’s because he was used to it. It was normal. To an outside guest however, nothing was normal about that smell.

Earlier that day we toured another church building. The church was Watermark and featured a cutting-edge design with wood panels all around the walls. This produced a rich smell that brought a feeling of a cabin in the woods or that moment you open a fine humidor of cigars. While we each glanced at the members of our group a pleasant look of surprise stole over our faces. And again, it was apparent our guide didn’t smell anything.


Do You Have Truth Blinders?

John F Kennedy“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.” John F. Kennedy

Consider the above quote from John F. Kennedy about the significance of young people. There is something intrinsically true we know about it even if we don’t personally know a lot of young people. It’s the kind of statement that you hear and then it resonates with your own life experiences and observations. Young people are the future.

Now consider that John F. Kennedy never said that.

But you know the person who did.


How Walmart Can Make You Better


According to these statistics, Walmart has more than $400 billion dollars in sales each year. They employ more than 2 million people. They make more than $34,000 every MINUTE.

Yet that isn’t what impresses me most.

I recently read that 90% of Americans live within 15 minutes of a Walmart!

Regardless of your view of Walmart as a company, they are shockingly efficient at spreading their brand. Imagine if you set out today to get a new store within just 50% of people in America. How daunting of a challenge! Yet Walmart has done this for almost everyone in America. Imagine what it takes to pull this off. How much success, how much strategic planning, and how many years of execution. It’s a daunting accomplishment.

I wonder how we’d live and work more deliberately if we set out to accomplish something this audacious. Maybe you aren’t launching new storefronts. But I bet there is some crazy dream inside you that you feel embarrassed even to say out loud.