A few weeks ago myself and our leadership team at West Salem Foursquare Church spent a few hours with Pastor Joe Wittwer of Life Center in Spokane. It was a really valuable time with a seasoned (yet amazingly youthful) leader. He had so many timely and stimulating thoughts for us to chew on.
One simple phrase he said has been rolling around in my heart for days now: “Nothing Rocks Forever.”
What was once a big deal can become yesterday’s news. That which was once the biggest thing since “sliced bread” now feels like toast that’s been sitting out on the counter too long. This is how things go…whether we like it or not. Nothing rocks forever. We live in a time of discontinuous change. For change to be “discontinuous” means it is without sequential order or coherent form. In other words, it is unpredictable, unprecedented, unbiased, and often unbecoming.
Change is, well, messy.
That’s why it is important for leaders to foster an ongoing culture of change within their organizations. It’s not enough to resign ourselves to a “if we change…” mentality. We must now operate on the premise of “when we change…” because nothing rocks forever. Discontinuous change is afoot.
How should we then live?
• Put more energy into operating principles rather than “soon-to-be obsolete” programs. Principles have greater duration, whereas programs die fast.
• Give everything an “Expiration Date.” Rather than waiting until an event, idea or program is on it’s last breath, consider establishing an expiration date. Throw it out before you have to wonder if it is rotten or not (and don’t make your friends “take a drink and tell you if it’s sour”)!
• Hang out with Change Artists. Immerse yourself in the writings, teachings, blogs, and company of individuals that understand that nothing rocks forever. Like iron that sharpens iron, we need these folks to keep us on the cutting edge. By the way, these don’t have to be the coolest kids in the crowd. Some of the best change artists I draw from have been dead for years, and others certainly wouldn’t be identified as “hipsters.” They do, however, understand change.
• Fail Forward. John Maxwell, an influential change artist, was the first person I heard use the phrase “fail forward.” The idea is that failure is inevitable so you might as well let it propel you towards growth. Too often, we equate failure as a setback, but for us to develop a culture of change, we must make friends with failure. Go ahead…try. Try something. Try anything. Don’t just sit there. Do something. Be something. Sure you will fail. Welcome to the club.
If you don’t try (and also fail) then you may never discover what ROCKS. There are a lot of ideas that are waiting to be discovered and ROCK for a season. Not forever, mind you.
Just for a season.
That’s how seasons work…they change.