social entrepreneurs

The Space Between (Part 6)

Are we at least willing to leave it all? The Hebrew tale of an invisible God calling a young Abram out of his home to a new land is such a perfect story of faith ventures. Even non-religious people can relate at least to the risk factor the unknown. “Go from your country, your people, and your father’s house” (Gen. 12.1). Gets right into it. Go. It’s the heart of all risk. Go. Leave what you know. And for what? In this case, “the land I will show you.” A future unknown goal is at hand.

That is the very heart of entrepreneurial risk: leaving what you know for some possible better future. That is really at the heart of the Scriptures throughout. Ironic that now religious people are seen as sterile, lethargic, and even lifeless.

Far from it in the beginning. The “father of faith” indeed shows a very different kind of religious model. It’s all about one’s willingness to leave it all for a promise of something better (a place with less space between). Are you willing to do that?

Some will argue the job of a great leader is to describe and inspire toward a vision of a preferred future. Their job, at least partly, is to understand and articulate where all this is leading. They are to help us know why it is worth our sacrifice.

That is precisely where we get the term visionary. Of course in today’s world that term is used almost exclusively for people working toward scientific and technological breakthroughs. Their “vision” is quite palatable and “usable” by the public.

Somehow all those breakthroughs make our lives “better,” or at least more comfortable. They are not visions of a preferred future exactly, they are visions of a preferred present. What can we do to make life better for humans now.

It is an interesting change. And most of the breakthroughs don’t necessarily lead us to be “better” humans doing “better” things, they lead us in most cases to greater comfort. That’s of course where “progress” and traditional vision fork in the road.

The goal of a true visionary is not to make life more comfortable for people, especially as we talk about artists. Their job in many ways is to make people less comfortable, or more irritable in their given comforts, to even “afflict their consciences.”

Sounds almost gloomy and downright mean, certainly a buzzkill. It also sounds like the “true” nature of real art is serious and confounding. While not the only purpose of the creative arts it may be one of most important.

“Better” generally involves growing, which generally does not come easy. Creative people have to keep pushing at the market to adjust expectations to include things that are good for them. That’s the heart of today’s creative entrepreneurs.

How do we sustain-ably bring good things to people? How do we take visions of a truly preferred future and get them into the conscious of the people? How do we reduce the space between people, natural resources, and the hope to carry on?

The Space Between (Part 2)

The Space Between (Part 2)

So we can re-frame our individual, personal suffering as another form of camaraderie between us. And yet it is only one of many. Even in the midst of our chaos we find profound moments of joy and acceptance at whatever the world may bring.

As we endure hardships we press into some magical space. Exhausted, broken, weary - perfect conditions for a magic spell (which is really just life bringing around a small taste of the harvest for which we long). We have a moment.

And in those moments time does stop.

To Love What You Do (Part 5)

To Love What You Do (Part 5)

We have discovered that what you believe infinitely changes your reality. If you believe something is possible, it is. Our accuser lives, as we have also said, to convince us not to believe - to shut us in on ourselves. To render us powerless.

To Be or Not to Be (Part 1)

To Be or Not to Be (Part 1)

Whether we live, or whether we die.... One is not necessarily better than
the other. There are those who fulfill their calling by negation, By what they give
up. Then there are those who do so by what they embrace.

The entrepreneur of course is one who embraces a vision, who with great
passion decidedly moves toward that vision, and making it happen. In such a strong pursuit it is very easy for their identity to be wrapped entirely around the venture.

The problem is, the matter how passionately we are committed to our work, it
cannot define us. It would be simpler, to some degree, if it could. But our work
alone is not enough to grasp the mystery of human "being."

Being Inspired (Part 1)

Being Inspired (Part 1)

In the end what makes someone great is not ability or natural talent. It’s receptibility. If we have any sort of true definition of inspiration (something being “inspired”) then the shift goes from the person making the stuff to the spirit inspiring it.

We have all sat through novice performances of someone who definitely believed they were inspired but clearly (painfully) were not. They may have loved it dearly, but natural talent and grace were clearly missing. What of such people and occasions?

Were they missing the real voice of inspiration? Was it a bad spirit? Were they simply misguided and confused? Did they stubbornly refuse to hear correctly the actual truth (they were forcing it rather than receiving it)? Good questions.

Such exceptions are important to study but probably prove the rule more than break it. Inspiration finds its way to the right people. And the right people may not have the most talent and may at first be hard to believe are inspired. She picks who she will.

Over the centuries we can also think of a handful of people who became the right people for their generation without proper training or background in their area. They were exceptions to the rule that showed what mattered most.

What some call the “zeitgeist” is simply the ability to animate (or be animated) by the spirit of the age. Certain people are picked as mouthpieces for their time. Against all odds they make it to a place of authority or renown where their voice is heard.

Why them? Why their voice? We don’t know, except to say it seems like the forces of nature came together to make it happen. There is a sense of destiny, inevitability, mystery. God worked in them to get something across or done.

It almost seems there is a common thread of reluctance, or at least passive reception. Think of Jospeh. He had dreams. Yes. Vision? Yes. Passively received. David. He had ambition. Yes. Courage? Yes. Was not seeking to be king.

Those with too much specific ambition to get a certain category or recognition seem to be missing the point. Even if they do end up “winning,” what have they won? Not the hearts of the people. The people are attracted to the zeitgeist.

It’s why Youtube can’t support already-made-it celebrities. They have already “won” their prize, Youtube is essentially for people who refuse to play the traditional systems and can still, through perceived natural processes, win a category.

How someone succeeds matters to people today (far more than it used to). Their story is an inevitable part of their branding. People’s work is not taken at face value (think the local FW poet who used an Asian alias to get the same work denied published).

We have purists at every step of the way, checking not the credentials of our last name or pedigree (artifacts of the past), but making sure we did not get an unfair advantage. Content is not enough today, we have to have a story!

The Power of YOU (Part 7)

The Power of YOU (Part 7)

At some point you will get to the very edge. Some things will be going great. Some things will be bombing. Nothing will be easy. You will wonder the inevitable but un-answerable question: is it worth it? Is this worth the sacrifice?

What’s at stake in the push? Well, our families, our health, our well-being, our financial security, our future, our balance. All those things have to go into the realm of secondary when we really believe their is a calling on our life from God.

Of course there are rewards along the way. There are little celebrations that remind us why we do it anyway. There are also temptations. There are new opportunities, both to succeed and to fail. And in the end, there is the question of who we are.

Who am I, and what do I think I am doing here? Who do I think I am to lead such a charge? Do I even have what it takes? Do I, more importantly, even want it? These are the questions that resonate deeply, out of which creative tension gives birth.

It is exactly the fact that we can not answer those questions ourselves that we dive in. “Wisdom is vindicated by her children.” We don’t so much get to “prove” ourselves worthy, rather our work itself and its outcomes alone can justify.

There is something, in other words, in the work itself that we need to discover who we are. People will poke and prod at us, in the process up we will have early critics and others who challenge us not to do it. They are stuck on the “how.”

Like Abraham and Moses they had no “proof” God was with them. Moses asked, “suppose I go and they ask who sent me? What shall I tell them” (Ex 3.13)? Even after being answered then he again asks a bunch of questions and doubts.


“What if they don’t believe” (4.1), “I am slow in speech,” (v.10, and finally “please send someone else” (v.13). Moses was after something could not full be gotten before going. He was wanting definitive proof before he took a step toward Egypt.

No matter our excuses for not initially doing that thing that resonates deeply inside us we eventually don’t win the debate. “” get replaced with the simple but profound “go...go...go.” We ultimately move toward trust or we start to die.

We can not say “no” to life. That is not really an option. Of course people do, but they pay the price. It is steep. Saying “no” to life means denying it, and ultimately saying “yes” to its opposite. “Losing our soul” (Lk 9.25) is the necessary response.

It’s hard to estimate the “opportunity cost” for the times we have said “no.” God is a God of “yes” (2 Cor 1.20). We would rather him say “no” at times. We would rather him make up our minds for us. The universe, though, humbly submits to our wishes.

Our sovereignty is protected throughout. No one can make the decision for us. No one can will for us. Not even God. He simply submits the option and waits for our discretion. “What will we do?” Yes. Simply decide. It is yours! 

The Power of YOU (Part 6)

The Power of YOU (Part 6)

It is easy to see ourselves mostly in light of what we produce. We get very attached to our contributions to the world. We are excited to use our skills to make a difference. That is a good thing. Our skills will not always be there for us.

And many times our contributions to the world become more about us than about the world. In other words, we need it more than anyone else. We get used to things going a certain way and we learn to expect and almost need it to go that way.

Sometimes our deep desire to contribute comes not from a place of benevolence and concern but of self-doubt and the need to “prove” ourselves worthy. There is almost no escaping this need to prove in a world so full of vocal doubters.

It forces us to really qualify ourselves and what we are doing. Why are we doing it? What is it we are really after? Am I the right person for the job? Do I really have a sense of calling about this? What is it am really after here?

Somewhere in this process of self-defining and differentiating we find it. We find the core thing we are really about. We thought it was over here doing this but really it is farther out being this. It’s not usually the thing we thought it was.

What we do is not usually the thing. How we do it, or Who we are is what makes it so special. There are a thousand other guys that do this or that. Quickly surveying the vast sea of “whatters” can make you feel completely insignificant.

Our outputs are always replaceable. Our outcomes are not. No one else can effect change the way we do. No one else can represent the things we do. No one else can be the presence we are. No one else has our unique voicing.

That is the true power of you, or at least those that understand the enormous potential in their concept of self. There is no one like me. I am necessary, inevitable, compelling because I am self-realized. There is no greater power to connect and lead.

Without self-realization we can not realize the self in others. In other words, if we are left wanting of ourselves, we will apply the same to others. Understanding our own unique calling and vision is essential to helping anyone else find their voice.

It does come down to resourcing. But as every young adult knows, getting money with old strings attached is not worth it. If we are going to do what we need to do right, it needs to be funded the right way. We need to find the right money.

That is the last step of the generative process: reflect, create, and realize. Realizing our creative vision means much more than simply creating the work. We need to realize it in its full cultural context. This step requires great resources.

I have made it one of my life’s main goals to help generate the incubation capital for really creative and worthy initiatives. Resourcing means far more than simply providing money, I mean to provide support, marketing, “mavening” and sales.