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get mad, then get over it

This is part 2 in the series of blog posts about Colin Powell’s 13 rules.

In the last post, we talked about Colin Powell’s rule #1, which was “It ain’t as bad as you think.”  The title of this post is rule #2:  “Get mad, then get over it.”

For those of you who know me, it is difficult to imagine me getting mad.  (Maybe you should talk to my kids about this, though.)  But like many technical artists, my “mad” manifests itself in more of a passive way.

When working on a production, there are so many opportunities to get angry about something that isn’t going my way.  For the Leadership Summit a few years ago, we had created a set that made it very difficult for the audio team to do their job to the best of their ability.  Fortunately for me (sarcasm), the team didn’t hesitate to get mad about it to me.  Unfortunately (not sarcasm), by that time it was too late to change it, and we needed to just push through.

Once the event was done, we talked about it some more, and we were able to build trust that we would keep the audio team in the loop better next time.  The other thing that I communicated was that the needs of audio aren’t always the most important, and that the specific event is always going to cause us to compromise in some way.  There needed to be trust that I would fight for what they needed, and trust that I would take the heat if audio failed because of a decision I was making.

Don’t let anger build up.

This story is probably a backwards way of talking about this value of getting mad then getting over it, but what I loved was that someone did get mad about this situation and now we have gotten over it.  So often, tech people hang onto their anger and let it build up.  That build up get then cause us to get mad way more than is normal.

Express your anger at an appropriate time.

The other great part about this story is that they got mad at an appropriate time.  There weren’t any blow-ups in a rehearsal, in front of the whole team.  They didn’t show their anger to all the volunteers.  They talked directly with me, the leader.  We were able to talk about this on the side and figure out how to move on without dragging the whole team down.

Getting mad can help create momentum

There is nothing wrong with getting mad.  There are many times that getting mad helps move me from my complacency.  Sometimes getting mad helps me take a good risk that I might be too afraid to take.  Sometimes getting mad helps me stand up for what I need instead of just taking another one for the team.

The trick for us technical artists is getting mad, working it out, then getting over it. 

Staying mad about something that happened months or years ago, doesn’t help anyone.

It is what makes so many tech people cynical and bitter. 

For those of us doing technical arts in the local church, this is not what Christ had in mind when he designed you, or what he wanted His church to look and feel like.

Read Matthew 18.  It’s a great framework of how to get mad, then get over it.


The next post is about Colin Powell’s #3 rule:

Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.

photo by: thethreesisters

“we should do this more often”

We had a volunteer celebration for the entire Willow production team the other night.  It included production teams from all the ministries at our South Barrington campus as well as all of our regional campuses.  It was amazing to see such a wide age range of like-minded people together in one place.  From the minute I walked into the room, I was so proud of the team I lead and get to be a part of.

Aloha January!

While the party was going on, I kept thinking, “We should do this more often.”  The sad thing is that we hadn’t done an event like that in 6 years!  The only reason I know this, is that we gave out production ministry t-shirts with a big ’06 on the back, that I still have.

Reflecting back on this and other big gatherings of our team that fall outside of the every day, getting the job done type of tasks, I was reminded of a few things that I will share over the next few blog posts.  The first thing is:

Just put something on the calendar.

I am not a huge fan of planning large events where I am the one responsible for people having a meaningful time.  What if it fails?  So instead of taking the chance, I tend to never put them on the calendar.  I have noticed that when the word is out, and there is no turning back, there is now a deadline to make something happen.  Retreats, staff meetings, celebrations…you name it.

There are so many things that are good for us to be about, but will never happen unless we plan for them.  The other thing that will happen if you don’t put it on the calendar, is that your calendar will fill up with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter as much.

Similar to “If you build it they will come” from the movie “Field of Dreams”, if you put something on the calendar, you will be prodded to make something happen and your volunteers will come.

Plan something.  Put it on the calendar.  Trying and failing is better than not doing anything.  Your team needs you to take a chance.

So now it’s on the calendar…now what?  Check out my next post.

[Disclaimer] - I didn’t actually put this particular event on the calendar, my team did…while I was on vacation.  They just told me we were doing it. :)

Creative Commons License photo credit: Rosa Say


I realized yet again, that I love to collaborate. As a Technical Director, I don’t necessarily “do” anything, other than try to set other people to do what they do. If I can get out of the way or get other things out of the way so people can bring their best, then I have succeeded.  This doesn’t happen without lots of collaboration.

For people to bring their best, means they need to be allowed to make choices that I wouldn’t necessarily make.  For them to succeed, I need to learn the difference between my way being right (and theirs wrong) and my way just being different.  On some level, it would be so much easier to not collaborate and just tell everyone how I want everything to be.  The problem is that most people can’t function very long just being told what to do at every turn.  Eventually, they turn off their brains and just become robots…but at least things are done the exact certain way.

I will wrestle and struggle my way to collaborate as a first choice every time.  I know that collectively, the group as way better ideas than me alone.  If I restricted our team to just what I know and what I think, it would be a very stale and dull environment.

There is definitely a baseline of how things should be.  That should be defined and everyone should know what those things are.  Above the baseline, I want to release people to bring their best so that what we do can have the maximum impact.

If you lead production folks, how can you release people to bring their best?  How can you change your process to allow for more collaboration?


I have been reading Seth Godin’s book “Linchpin” and he talks about the principle of sprinting. I’m just going to quote from him:

“The best way to overcome your fear of creativity, brainstorming, intelligent risk-taking or navigating a tricky situation might be to sprint.

“When we sprint, all the internal dialogue falls away and we focus on going as fast as we possibly can. When you’re sprinting, you don’t feel that sore knee and you don’t worry that the ground isn’t perfectly level. You just run.”

In my world of production at Willow Creek, there is something fascinating about the sprint.  It seems like we spend quite a bit of energy trying to simplify stuff or to make something doable so we don’t burn ourselves out.  But instead, what seems to happen is that we tend to have too much time on our hands to worry about what’s next, or get frustrated by the things we don’t like, or wish that something that is broken would get fixed.  This idea of sprinting makes me think about the huge tasks that get put in front of us that take too much time, require too many resources and generally push ourselves to the limit.

I had lunch with someone and we talked about old times, and some of the crazy projects that he had been a part of.  In a particular era, he didn’t have a day off for something like 2 years, yet those 2 years contain some of his favorite memories of working here.  I started thinking about all the amazing things I have been a part of over my life, and most of them have come at a time of immense work load, a sprint.

The sprint feels like something we need, to stay energized and to push us to the next level.  Something that helps us stop thinking about all the problems we have and focusing on getting something done. Most people I know, including myself, get a little nervous when people start talking about an all out run. By sprinting on a regular basis, our endurance is built up, we can run farther, we can begin to pick up our normal pace.

Seth Godin summarizes this thought nicely:  “You can’t sprint every day, but it’s probably a good idea to sprint regularly.”

The Misunderstood Part

Big Toe

Big ToeOne of the things that I believe about me and other technical artists is that we are misunderstood. For years I have argued that it is really we who misunderstand ourselves and that we need to get a better grasp on how God has made us and how we fit into the body of Christ in our particular location.  I have even been doing some writing about the misunderstood life of the technical artist.  This is foundational to how I think about myself as a leader of fellow technical artists.

However, I have really been wrestling with this reality lately.  I find myself sitting at a table with other people who are so obviously different from me; with different opinions, different perspectives and different passions.  Usually we are talking about our services; the one that just happened and the ones that are coming up in the future.  At one of these meetings, I found myself trying really hard to come up with an opinion or a perspective or to seem passionate about something other than what I normally would.

When I have opened my mouth in the past with my own production minded outlook, I generally would get glassy-eyed stares from the people around the table.  After a couple of times of this happening, it is really easy to stop talking or to try and say something that might be received better.  What I really needed to be doing is digging in and reminding myself who I am and why I am there.

I Am the Big Toe

I am supposed to have a different opinion.  I am supposed to be passionate about something completely different from anybody else.  I am supposed to have a completely different perspective that is unique to who I am as a technical artist.  God has me on this team, at this time to bring those things to the table that I sit around…to bring who I am to the table.  I need to get over it.  My team needs me to bring myself to this table.  My church needs me to be who God made me to be.  This has been a good lesson for me in living out 1 Cor. 12.  Now its time to live out 1 Cor. 13.

Bring on the glassy-eyed stares!

talking vs. doing

I have become more and more uncomfortable just talking about what the problems are or even what the solution to the problem might be.  Unfortunately, I am also uncomfortable with the actually doing something about the problem; taking action.  That means the possibility of failure.  But if I don’t try, then how will things ever get better?  If I don’t try, than things will stay the same, which I know I don’t like.  If I do try, what is the worst that can happen?  We decide it doesn’t work, then we try something else.  I’m going for it.

show up

I don’t love talking in large groups…OK, maybe I do like it, but I never like that feeling of not knowing exactly what to say.  Yesterday I needed to stand up in front of a group and was really not sure what to say.  I wrote myself a couple notes, I stressed about it, and even got some sweaty palms.  When it came time to open my mouth, I am not sure that anything profound came out, but words definitely came out that I hadn’t planned on.  Afterwards, I realized that I had stepped up to what I needed to be about, I had even prepared to make it the best possible (which still felt like not enough) and God had showed up to make up the difference.  After it was all over I was sitting in the services and realized that if nothing else, people get a chance to see what I think and feel instead of me being the only one who knows.

If I want the culture at Willow to be one that I am proud to be a part of I need to keep stepping up to these chances to speak into the culture, even when I don’t like the feeling of not knowing exactly what to say.  If I am obedient, God will show up.


A group of people working together toward the same goal is natually doomed to failure.   We are all different and  we all have a different idea of what the same goal is.  Daily leadership and constant reminders and crystal clear vision is required to bring all of us together, moving in the same direction.  It is amazing that anything happens in groups with the criteria being so tough.  I am praying for God to bring those things to our team.  Only He can any way.  I can’t.