How Perspective Changes Everything
I’ve heard it said we all have about 40% of ourselves that we can’t see. This is true not only in our personal lives, but in our organizations as well. Greater impact sometimes requires an outside perspective. Think about it – even the greatest professional athletes have coaches.
Without outside perspective, every jumping animal becomes a kangaroo. In this episode, Amy and I share why so many churches get comfortable with the familiar and how it keeps them from making the necessary changes for growth.
In this episode, we discuss:
Common church blindspots
The importance of engaging young leaders
Team assessment techniques
The role of accountability in strategy
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Have a story of a time when outside perspective gave you a necessary interruption? Comment or share on social media using #unstuckchurch.
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Amy Anderson: welcome to the unstuck church podcast. I’m Amy Anderson and I’m here with Tony Morgan and each week we share conversation our teams been having about getting churches unstuck and today we’re talking about perspective, uh, the importance of getting outside perspective both personally and in many areas of our lives. I guess Tony, but can you start by making the case why is outside perspective so important?
Tony Morgan: Well, part of it is just from an experienced personally, and I’ll share a story in a moment, but part of it is just looking at successful people, successful organizations. I mean I’m a big sports nut and my favorite Golfer is Phil Mickelson and uh, I feel as a, it was just fun to watch him, but Phil has a coach that watches, looks at a swing constantly helping him tweak what he’s doing to improve. This is a guy that had been on top of his game for a couple of decades, but he still has a coach that’s watching. How am I doing, how am I performing my favorite baseball player a, again, I’m a Cleveland Indians Fan. I know this is hard for listeners to understand, but my family grew up in the Cleveland area and I loved watching Jim Tommy hit for the Indians, uh, in years past and it was because when he hit the ball, the ball would fly for miles.
Tony Morgan: I think he ended up with over 600 home runs in his career and Jim Tommy had a batting instructor. He had somebody that was watching a swinging swing and helping him improve and hit that ball farther. Um, so we see this all the time with professional athletes that are on the top of their game. And I think if we’re honest, we’ve probably seen this in our own lives where ever we’re trying to move from one place to a different place and to experience more success in some area. It’s typically because we have a coach, somebody that’s helping us get perspective that we don’t have. And a good example of this from my life, people may not realize it, but when no one else was around. And I like to play the piano. I don’t like to play for people. I like to play for my own enjoyment.
Tony Morgan: I’m actually not bad, but you’ll never see me publicly playing the piano. And for me Ms Dobbins was my coach and she had experience playing the piano. I didn’t have a, she was able to help coach me with, with technique and to read music and to do things that I wasn’t able to do a, she gave me honest feedback on how I needed to do prove a, but more importantly than anything my parents would tell you is she provided outside accountability because I had to practice and I had to prove I was practicing by the improvement in piano abilities. And so, uh, may maybe for you amy, I’ll share my piano playing abilities at some point, but it’s just a good example of a, for us to move from one place to a place where we have a greater impact, new experiences, new abilities, many times it requires that outside perspective.
Amy Anderson: Yeah. That outside coach, didn’t you write about a scenario like this in your book? Didn’t you encounter a kangaroo?
Tony Morgan: So, uh, yeah. So sometimes we need perspective that we don’t have. And a good example of this was a way many years ago, we were living out in Iowa and we had just finished a home group and emily and I were driving down this country. Road wasn’t paved, it was a gravel road and our firstborn, Kayla was in the backseat and it was toward dusk and we’re driving down this country road and all of a sudden this animal leaps over the car, lands on the windshield, and then falls over the other side of the road. And I mean, it caught us off guard, off guard, obviously stopped the car. The windshield was totally, we’re just fortunate the animal didn’t come through the windshield, but it was destroyed. And I don’t know any, if you’ve been through something like that as a first reaction is what happened. And then it’s like, oh my goodness, I got to get my heart back and my chest.
Tony Morgan: Um, and so we’re just, we’re just trying, we’re just reacting to the situation but not realizing in the back seat. Kayla’s taking this all in. And her first response was, Daddy, why did that kangaroo jump on her car? And I’m from her, I mean she, all she knew was any jumping animal was a kangaroo and it was just a great reminder for me that sometimes we need people with more experience and a different perspective for us to understand the situation that we’re, we’re experiencing. Um, it was actually, I think it was Henry Cloud. I should write down names with quotes in Credit Henry Cloud. He May, it may have been somebody, some other smart person, but um, I think it was Henry Cloud said 40 percent of ourselves. There’s 40 percent of ourselves that we can’t see. And I think that holds true for us as individuals. But Amy, I really believe that holds true for our organizations that we lead as well.
Amy Anderson: What triggered the idea for this podcast is, you know, we were talking about the way we engage with churches and you know, the first engagement. We go and do a secret shopper. And of course we see some blind spots there because churches can’t see what they’re doing after they’ve been doing it for a while. We also see blind spots in the other areas too, like the planning process. And the staffing and structure, process and action. So let’s just take a few minutes and talk about the where churches tend to have blind spots and need an outside perspective. And so let’s start with that secret shopper. What are some of the things, Tony, that you see as an outside person that churches have sort of become blind to?
Tony Morgan: So, uh, again, these, would you think these would be so obvious? Why wouldn’t we see it? But it really is that, that stain carpeting and our own living room that because we’re living there all the time, we don’t notice it. We don’t even care about it. And w the only time we notice it when we’re preparing for to join us and we see the same thing happening time after time after time. And the churches that we work with when we do that secret shopper experience and some of it has to do with the service itself, that it’s just, it’s there, they’ve done, it’s like they’ve had that same rhythm and their services for years. And finally, someone comes in with fresh eyes and recognizes, oh, wait a second, the quality of the, the audio for worship, it’s just not where it needs to be or a the way the, the, the set is in the platform is designed, really draws your attention away from what the focus should be or we don’t have people appropriate greeters and hospitality teams in place in order to welcome people and point people in the right direction. If this is their very first visit or the facilities, the facilities itself, they just haven’t been cared for through the years. And you and I talked in our recent podcast about that attention to the facilities and preparing for first time guests. That outside perspective, sometimes it’s helpful for us because we get so accustomed to it. We’re doing it week after week, day after day that we began to miss what that first time or is seeing.
Amy Anderson: One of the challenges we always had, um, when I was on staff at a church is invite someone know, telling your staff, invite someone to church and go to church with them. And it is amazing what suddenly you see that you didn’t see before and that that doesn’t take a lot of time or energy to get some outside perspective, but I can guarantee you when your staff bring someone, they’re going to have a much more sensitive spirit to the things that aren’t going well for a first time guest.
Tony Morgan: Yeah. Or you can just invite your kids. I remember visiting my son and um, he, he, uh, he was well behaved during the service, but on the way out, even at a young age, he looked at me and started pointing out some things that he thought, gosh, this is not what I’m used to. And he said, Daddy, this church is never going to grow. Only only someone young like that would, would, would just be honest about what they just experienced.
Amy Anderson: That’s your son. No. OK. So that’s the easy one, right? I think every church knows you can get you. You go visit another church. Um, that’s another way to kind of get some fresh eyes on your own experience to see how another church or another experience goes for you. But let’s talk about the planning process because that’s not always as obvious, but you and I were just talking about the blind spots that happened in planning. Can you speak to that?
Tony Morgan: That’s right. And this one, it really is more challenging because, um, it, it’s related to the strategy, the Ministry strategy that churches are using and sometimes we need that outside perspective to help us concern what are the key components of our strategy that are still working and what are the, what are the elements in our strategy that aren’t working and may have not been working for quite some time, but we’ve been hesitant to make changes because, you know, it’s something that people are invested in and um, you know, we just need that outsider to come in and just be honest with us. Give us the truth where we’re, are we still seeing health center enter Ministry strategy? Where are we struggling? And so it’s not uncommon for us amy, to walk into a church and to identify there are areas in the ministry programming the events that they’re doing, the types of services they’re offering.
Tony Morgan: It’s a strategy that many times worked in the past and a great way, but now it’s, it’s kind of, it’s been through the full life cycle and they just need somebody from the outside to come in and Kinda confirm this is something that was great in the past and we need to celebrate the life change that resulted from this ministry or the strategy in the past, but we have to bring it to an end and look out what can we do differently in the future for our church to experience health and growth going forward. And so those, those aspects of the ministry strategies are, they can, they can become blind spots for those of us that have been engaging that same strategy year after year.
Amy Anderson: Any advice that you give to a church on how they can get some of the outside perspective on planning? I mean, beyond a full engagement with a consultant. Are there any other leaders in their church or ways they can assess it?
Tony Morgan: Yeah, I do think [inaudible]easy and again, it should be obvious way to do this. Uh, but so helpful for churches in the long run is to periodically invite young leaders, new leaders to the conversation, and you don’t have to give them a permanent invitation to whatever that, that team meeting is that you regularly have to discuss where the churches and where you’re going in the future, but periodically invite that fresh perspective from folks that are a part of your ministry already. They might, they may not be at a position in the church’s organization, would justify them always being in the conversation, um, but dip down into your organization and invite new, especially young staff leaders or, uh, even, uh, some, a young lady leaders to the conversation to help you see things maybe that you haven’t seen. And I’m actually always amazed when we engage with churches. We do a planning retreat. We invite 12 leaders from the church, no more than 12 to be a part of this conversation. But we try to encourage churches to think about inviting some next generation leaders to be a part of this. And I’m always surprised I probably shouldn’t be. But the depth of the contribution that these young leaders make is so essential to the conversations we’re having about next steps. And so, uh, yeah, that’s an easy free cheap probably because you’re probably not paying those young leader an easy way to get some fresh perspective.
Amy Anderson: And I think, uh, Andy Stanley and Craig Rochelle, leaders of large churches, they have a formal process with new employees, I think at the three month in one year mark, to actually ask them what do you see that we’re doing that we shouldn’t be doing and what do you see that we’re not doing that we shouldn’t be doing to get that fresh perspective? So just one other idea for the leaders out there was a couple minutes left. Let’s hit staffing the staffing and structure area where our blind spots there. Tony.
Tony Morgan: Yeah. In this case, what we see commonly is that the blind, not really blind spots, but having that outside confirmation that we have the wrong people in the, in the wrong roles. Uh, so mean in many cases when we engage with the church, they have a sense that there are some shifts that have to make some transitions need to occur, but what they’re really looking for is that outside perspective to confirm that their hunches are correct. It’s, it’s a less common for us to identify something that would be completely off the radar when it comes to staffing and structure. But we’re still seeing that the outside perspective is pretty essential. Um, and you know, even even in my role leading the unstuck group and there are times where I’m getting some outside perspective from, from the leaders that we’re engaging with in the churches that were serving, just to get their perspective on the folks from my team that are engaging with these churches just to make sure I have the right people in the right roles to serve these churches in the best way.
Amy Anderson: First steps they could take. Our listeners could take if they feel like they’ve got some blind spots here.
Tony Morgan: Well, I really do think getting, using some sort of assessment profile to determine where people’s strengths are, how God has wired them up, just to confirm that we have the right people in the right roles and those roles are based on their strengths. Um, that’s pretty critical. And so one easy way to get some outside perspectives would be to leverage some sort of assessment from an outside organization and, uh, I think folks know we like to use leading from your strengths for ministry insights. They don’t pay us to, uh, to give them that encouragement for churches to use them, uh, that, that can provide some of that outside perspective. And that’s, we use that then when we use, when we do our staffing and structure reviews with the churches we served.
Amy Anderson: And how about the accident? You know, our fourth visit is often around um, action. But where do we need some outside perspective in that area, that accountability to actually get things done?
Tony Morgan: Yeah, you hit the keyword. The keyword for an outsider can help provide accountability. It’s the role of the coach in our lives that is making sure that we’re following through with what we said we wanted to accomplish and then ultimately seeing the results that we were expecting in an amy, I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I think you have some recent learnings when it comes to outside coaching and accountability. Is that true? This orange theory thing? It sounds like
Amy Anderson: a lot of accountability going on on the goals that I stated, but I would like to take them back because my coach is very good,
Amy Anderson: but it doesn’t relate the outside perspective, you know, she knows what my goals are and she’ll watch me with every move I make in the gym and she’s constantly tweaking form you know, and how I’m doing things so that I actually get the results that I want because I mean, I guess I just had a lot to learn in that area, but it’s amazing if you turn, you turn your muscle a certain way and you get the results that you’re looking for. But if you miss that feedback, it’s kind of a waste of time in the gym. So
Tony Morgan: commonly we hear from the churches that we’re working with, they really value, um, the, the seeing the things that they can’t see when we bring that perspective, they love the experience that we have working with other churches and that we can bring that experience to their ministry. They, they love the fact that we can provide some honest feedback and like I said, maybe some confirmation to about having the right people in the right roles, but I, for churches say on many occasions that it’s the accountability piece that they really value because they’ve talked in the past about some things that they want to do. But having somebody provide that ongoing coaching and encouragement and accountability to help them actually take that next step and follow through has been essential to helping those churches move forward.
Amy Anderson: All of our listeners got a something today that will help them get eyes on those areas where maybe they’ve gone a little bit blind. I know Tony, we talk about this all the time at the group. How we continued to get good feedback and have a good perspective. So I’m well thanks everyone for joining us and thanks Tony for all of your insights today. Um, we hope that you’ll tune in again, so be sure to subscribe on itunes, Google play, or wherever you get your podcast so that you don’t miss an episode. And we’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. So join the conversation on social media using Hashtag unstuck church. And finally you can learn more about how the unstuck group that helps get churches firstname.lastname@example.org.