I like new. New ideas. New projects. Learning new skills. As a society, the United States prefers new too. Sometimes, however, new can get in the way of making a difference.
There are a number of leaders I connect with only a couple times a year. As we meet and catch up I hear about their latest effort, which usually includes a vision, logo, and website. It could be a new product, service, or ministry effort, and they are excited about the possibilities. Me, too, as I listen to them!
The next time I meet up with them I ask about their project. Often the response I hear is, “Oh that. Yeah, we didn’t move forward on that. What we’re working on now is much more exciting,” and they tell of their new effort, which includes another new vision, new logo, and new website.
Casting vision is exciting, safe, and relatively easy. Actually implementing that vision is difficult. Implementation faces obstacles, not the least of which is our own boredom. The fleeting thrill of the new, and boredom of the old, is the curse of solo practitioners like coaches. We have a lot of autonomy and so we can flit from one idea to the next without accountability.
You need more than ideas, vision statements, logos, and websites to make a difference. You’ve got to implement and keep implementing.
How Sting and Stevie Wonder Make A Difference
Not long ago, I was looking for a duet Sting and Stevie Wonder did together of Fragile. So, I Googled it. What I found was videos of each of them singing their popular songs again, and again, and again over 50 years! They’ve each recorded new songs along the way, but Sting sings Roxanne at every concert. Stevie sings I Just Called To Say I Love You, a song he recorded in 1984. We all want to hear these songs!
These two artists have made a difference in our lives because they sing their songs again, and again, and again.
For 10 years, I’ve been teaching and writing on how to coach. It’s a topic that still very much excites me. I must have taught some of my courses 100 times. I’ve revised them over the years, and the impact on participants seems to only be increasing. Still. Even with all these great results I want to do something new. I hear a subtle message from society around me that if it isn’t new, then I’m somehow inauthentic, living in the past, and not relevant.
In the Bible, James tells us how to make a difference. He writes, “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did” (2:22 NIV). I’m thinking of “faith” as including the calling and gifting we’ve received from the Lord. Just to hold it, talk about it, but not do it is not enough.
To make a difference you have to implement again, and again, and again. That’s living out your faith. That’s putting your vision into action. You may have to do it a dozen times before you see the impact you hope for. One thing is for sure: unless you implement you’ll never make a difference.
Don’t let the excitement of “new” distract you from making a difference.
About the author: Keith E. Webb, DMin, PCC is author, speaker, and consultant specializing in leadership development. He is the founder of Creative Results Management, a global training organization focused on helping ministry leaders multiply their impact. For 20 years, Keith lived in Japan, Indonesia, and Singapore where he designed and delivered leadership development programs to leaders around the world.
He is the author of The Reflective Journal for Coaches, Coaching in Ministry, and The COACH Model for Christian Leaders. Keith is the immediate past-President of ICF Washington State and lives near Seattle with his wife and their two children. He blogs at keithwebb.com.