Archive for February, 2006

What Does the Malcom Gladwell Phenomenon Reveal About Our Culture?

February 10, 2006


How did Gladwell become the Dale Carnegie of the iPod Generation?

Last night I was wondering why the author Malcom Gladwell could become such a cultural prodigy. Better yet, I began asking myself the much more incisive question: What does the Gladwell effect say about our culture?

It says times have changed. The way we learn is different. The way we see and receive information is different. We’re searching for understanding, for something else, yet with reasons. What most people care about is fulfilling experiences, fulfilling relationships and reasonable understanding. Gladwell helps in the latter. We know we’re becoming more and more complex but we’re more than willing to allow it as long we enjoy life and relationships. This reveals a lot more than most of us take the time to consider, or have allow ourselves such time.

As most of us know, Malcom Gladwell is the acclaimed author of the hugely bestsellers “Blink” and “The Tipping Point”—so big it created an unexpected wave of non-fiction books to seize the market, the kind that none of us could be have predicted to become such a bestseller in the mainstream pop culture. But it’s not the sales that perplex me – it’s the impact it’s having on the entire culture. I’ve wondered what this could mean. What could this say about us? At first, his popularity and influence on our culture seemed strange to me, that is until I began a two-year journey seeking understanding of the culture and why the gospel stopped sticking.

This week I read a well-written article on Gladwell by the New York Times book review editor Rachel Donadio. Danadio made these elucidating observations, comparing Gladwell’s impact to Dale Carnegie (“How to Win Friends and Influence People” – 1936) and Norman Vincet Peale (“Power of Positive Thinking” – 1952), who’s books helped shaped society in a peculiar way.

In our “iPod generation” we’ve chosen Malcom Gladwell. While Carnegie and Peale produced books about understanding, relating and liking people, Gladwell helps us understand how things work in a way that helps us have control over them. What Danadio calls optimism through demystification. While optimism will always be a foremost way to win in society, certainly – a vital asset to all – but, it’s demystication that we most desire today.

What does this say to the person who is trying to add value to culture? It’s clear that people think differently – way differently than they did 30, 20, 10, even 5 years ago.

The biggest thing that I have to keep driving home to people and organizations is how vitally important it is for you to “think deeply” about what you do and why you do it. Not only in a linear approach but in non-linear, right-brained one. And then to work hard at communicating that to the everyday world, and make sure it’s transferable and memorable (Gladwell’s Stickiness Factor). This world intensely desires to have an “under the surface” understanding of life, and especially faith.

Gladwell is doing the work most people wish they could do. To think, write, converse and read all day in coffee shop’s. I don’t argue with that life because that’s the gist of my days – fortunately. So we have joined this guy’s journey of questions and desire for understanding through his writings, as he thinks deeply about the issues affecting our lives and culture. So he’s become our friend. He’s become one of our life tour guide’s. And all of us should be aware that this is the way many of the leaders in the 21st century will look.

He’ll have a message, but he’ll carry it with deep-seated “reasons.” He’s open. He thinks. He wonders. He sees new horizons. And the world becomes his audience.

He isn’t afraid of the complex, the unpredictable, the unknown. Rather he enjoys the process of finding answers while embracing the mystical. He is used to speed, to change and to options so he just goes with it, until he find what fits. He’d rather have mobility than stability any day. There will be a tension between opportunity and loyalty in his life. Leaders who follow Jesus will respond to that by being careful what they commit to, trusting the spirit to synch their heart with Jesus’ in every situation. There will be tension between short-term and long-term because many leaders see long-term commitment has a threat to their freedom and personalization. Again, leaders who follow Jesus will have to hack that one out with the Heavenly Father. The leader of the future loves challenges and will have a hard time with commitment. They don’t want to be loyalist just for the sake of loyalty – like their parents were taught and lived. Tomorrow’s leaders don’t necessarily want to change the world; they’d rather enjoy the world while changing it. He loves to rethink everything – another reason to welcome the Malcom Gladwell’s of the world, if only there were more. There are, just wait and see. In fact, the self-proclaimed liberal Gladwell is called a Spiritual leader of the American culture, which is scary.

I have asked myself constantly these sorts of questions the past couple years:
Questions of Purpose and Perspective : :
• Am I on this earth to fit my heart, passion and gifts into a system that seemed to work in the past? Am I on this earth to be a missionary to the real world or the church world?
Questions of Willingness and Aloneness : :
• Am I willing to do what God has called me to do even if I have to do it alone? Am I willing to pay the price for their souls? Am I willing to listen to the Spirit and explore the unknown or just do what people tell me to do?

I am becoming clearly convinced that most of us (if 40 yrs & below) are not meant to continue serving in the methods of the past. What we are meant to do is whatever it takes to lead this generation into the discovery of Jesus. And if the leaders older than us do not understand how to release us to reach our generations, then we have to be strong and courageous to make a new path without them. This isn’t about our parents or about us; it’s about destiny and people souls.

Hurdles

February 9, 2006

“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you. If you don’t have that kind of feeling for what it is you are doing, you’ll stop at the first giant hurdle.” – George Lucas

This year is the first year of my life that I’ve been 100% certain I am doing what I was made to do. Before now, the hurdles we’re always temptations to find something else to do. Now, hurdles are expected, even embraced because I know they just make me stronger.

“Before you can be creative, you must be courageous. Creativity is the destination, but courage is the journey.” – Joey Reiman, CEO, Brighthouse

The Need to Conquer…the Harder to Fall

February 8, 2006

The longings of my heart is to pour the gospel message into people’s lives. I am not so much of a brain surgeon—I am into doing the heart-surgery thing on people’s lives. But the intertwining thought that continually tangles my mind is how can I be the person God made me to be. It wasn’t long ago that my role seemed so complicated compared to everyone else.

I would assess and evaluate and seek counsel and look everywhere for that fit. All of this has led me back to the same mind-boggling questions and the same desperation I’ve always had. And I wonder if there’s no other way than to aggressively and intentionally go.

That’s the way my journey with Christ began. I went…hard! I found wavering souls and fed them the food of God. Lives began to change. My life was like a sailboat…and I glided with the wind of God. I didn’t have time to think…only time to proactively pour my life into the word, prayer and the powerhouses of teachings in all kinds of books, tapes and the men of God to spend time with. The overflow of all of that was to step out in faith and point people upward to Jesus and then to help guide them into a similar walk I had. The power was eminent!

Then things started to unravel as I found something to conquer.

Beforehand, I had nothing to conquer, only everything to lose. My life revolved around losing in order to gain; giving in order to receive; staying weak as the only way to be strong. But in college I found something to have and enjoy and settle on.

Of all the things in the world, it was a relationship with my future wife. We had something that was truly incredible, a story only God could weave. But the moment we acknowledged to each other that we were going to be soul mates for the rest of our lives, in my mind I felt like a conquering hero.

At the top of my game I began to let the very thing that brought so much joy to my life take me down. I really had no idea this was going on. I was in love and at the point where I had it all—a walk with God, a very fruitful life, and a wife very few people get to have.

This was a woman who is special and everyone who knows her can see it. She’s as true of a Proverbs 31 woman of God as you’ll ever find, even at a young age. So I had my trophy now and everything else seemed less spectacular. The high of my game became the unraveling.

Success is such a danger isn’t it? The more you obtain, the more you have to lose. Even the good things in a life can become the idol that brings you down.

There’s something to be said about the man who maintains a perspective that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. The more we learn and the more we become can eventually become our biggest threat.

The constant fight – to be more consumed with God than anything else – the world, the becoming, the having, the wanting, the expectations, and even the pursuit. It’s God’s deal or nothing at all. We are meant to be slaves of the Master in word and deed.

Ravi Zacharias noted in This We Believe:
“A modern-day writer, jack Higgins, was asked at the pinnacle of his success what he now knows that he wished he had known as a younger man. ‘I wished I had known that when you get to the top, there is nothing there.’”

Three pertinent questions that can take you towards God or separate you far away from him:

What am I after? What do I want? What do I want to live for?

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    For more information about Bryan or his writings, presentations and consultations, please contact bryan.davidson@mac.com. He is located in Atlanta, GA USA and can be reached at +1.678.777.6625
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