Monday, March 3, 2014

Don't Buy Your Dreams at a Conference

When there is so much on the line, why do so many of us look for a solution that comes to us in a shiny, one-size-fits-all package?  How many professionals from educators to business entrepreneurs to pastors to marketers and communications directors have come back from a conference marketed to their particular career niche, and have come back ready to indiscriminately implement a new strategy unknown to them just 4 days before?  Otherwise intelligent people completely losing their minds, and for what reason?  What creates in us such desperation for a win that we will buy into a strategy that worked in a market and with a people that have only tangential similarities to our own, and with leaders who posses an entirely different set of gifts, talents and abilities? 

There is a long answer that goes into the oppressive nature of marketing and the pressure to succeed quickly and effortlessly, and the fears and insecurities and easily manipulated egos of certain personality types.  But the short answer is a lack of belief in ourselves.

We gravitate toward what we perceive as a proven strategy because we fear that a carefully crafted and successful strategy is beyond our abilities to pull off. 

Check out the marketing for the next conference in your field.  It will tap into values that we hold, and promise to equip us with everything we need to keep us from failure and frustration. 

That's as far as I need to go.  Anyone who has actually had success know this one truth: Success is born of frustration and failure.  It is not hatched at a conference or workshop.  If you never fail, you are not trying!  If you are never frustrated, you are satisfied much too easily to ever be able to build or produce something of great value. 

You know all of those innovative techniques and proven strategies that get promoted at the conferences?  Do you know where they came from?  Usually out of the minds of a team of people who believed they could do something significant.  It may have begun with one idea in the mind of a single person, but it was most likely fleshed out by a team of creative, committed, flawed people who had not yet arrived.  The dreamed.  They dared.  They tried.  They failed.  They made adjustments and tried and failed again.  But they stayed at it until they succeeded because they believed in themselves and in their dream.   You know what they probably did NOT do?  Go to a conference! 

Okay, maybe some of them did.  Maybe some great ideas were sparked at a really good conference or workshop.  But it was more likely that they were inspired by an idea or a spirit of innovation, than the invitation to adopt some strategy or tactic created in a different community by persons with a different set of gifts.

So the conclusion is that we should never bother going to conferences, right?  Not at all!  I go twice a year, at least.  But I'm not looking for a quick road to success or some shortcut to significance.  What I love about conferences is the creative energy, the optimism, hope and expectation of success that fills the air.  It's contagious! It can help you begin to believe in yourself again.

Think about it.  Big time conferences bring the best talent, best minds, and sometimes even the best practices before those of us who need a spark of inspiration.  If we can resist the temptation to cut and paste what others have done onto what we are trying to do (which is just death), it can be a powerful, creativity-igniting kind of experience.  We can dream our own dreams and pursue our own visions and allow our own God-given gifts and talents to be shifted into high gear. When that happens, we begin to believe.  And when we begin to believe, there is no stopping us!

So if you find a good conference to go to, let me know.  I might meet you there. We can kick some ideas around.

May you discover, at a conference or in your own personal growth, the belief in yourself that allows you to chase that God-given dream that fires your imagination and creativity.  May you begin to use your talents and abilities to do things only you can do to bless others and add value to this world the people in it who are loved by God.  And may you be the prompt for others who see what you have done, and be compelled to go live out their own God-inspired dream. 

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