A few weeks ago I was traveling up to the mountains of Virginia from Atlanta by myself for a few hours and made a few phone calls to pass the time. Over the last year or so I have found myself actually liking to make phone calls instead of texting. That has nothing to do with this story, but maybe a post for a later date.

On one particular phone call a buddy and I got into the discussion of that uneasy & terrible feeling you get when your boss, coworkers, higher ups, etc. are not sharing with you what they truly believe about your work performance. When days, weeks, and even months go by when you never hear anything specific about your work peformance. You may get the weekly “great job”, but you get that gut feeling there is something there that they would like to tell you. And I get it, confrontation is not fun. Telling someone how to improve honestly (for most normal people) is not a natural thing we do. So for many people they wait until the annual review to get the download of all the things they “could” have improved on during the last 12 months. And I did exactly that until recently when I decided to go after the critiques and ask specific ways to improve… weekly.

Basically I decided to go on the offense and seek improvement instead of being asked to improve. So I personally call my boss (production director) each Saturday night on the way home after our Saturday night worship experience and ask…

  1. What he thought.
  2. What can I/we do better.
  3. What do I/we need to do again the next day.

Fortunately I have boss who loves to talk shop so the phone doesn’t bother him (that I’m aware of). And with Atlanta traffic we both have some time on our hands.

So this week start asking your boss the three questions I ask each week myself. I promise you that you will only get better clarity on what you are doing. You may just find out you are better than you thought and you can relax a little with the worry. Or you may find out your not as good as you thought and you have some improvement. Either way it will be a win for yourself and your team.

Lately I’ve caught myself in conversations telling others to listenevaluate, and decide a lot. It may be coming across as advice to others because I have been trying to engage in feedback lately with those three words in mind.

Here is what I mean in short form:

Listen

Stop talking and just listen. If you are married you know what I mean here. It’s very hard to do this part, but it is the best thing you can do. So when someone approaches you with feedback you did not solicit go ahead and listen. Don’t justify your decisions. If you solicited the feedback once again don’t start defending your choices. Just listen.

Evaluate

You have now taken the time to actually listen to someone’s opinion. Other’s opinions are very important to improving your art/decisions/product. The thing to remember though is every opinion is just that… an opinion. So once you have taken the time to listen you must take the time to evaluate. You will base the evaluation on many factors that only you can decide on. The key here is to take the time and evaluate what you have heard from others.

Decide

Now that you have listened and evaluated you must decide. And this must be based around vision and values. If you begin making decisions based on wavering vision and values you will continue to make reactionary changes based solely on peoples opinions and not vision. This is extremely hard for church production environments. Lights, video and audio volume can be and should be decided based on vision/values and not just complaints/compliments. It’s difficult in the moments you must make a decision, but no matter what decision you make some peoples opinions will be opposite. And once again with vision you can make your way through those circumstances.

So this week as you create new art, scripts, music, policies, curriculum be sure to listen to others, evaluate what you have heard, and then decide based on your vision and values.

There are two things that I love to do when I open up my laptop. One is to interact with beautiful well made websites. Websites where a lot of time was put into the typography choice and the user interface (UI). The second is when different types of content is displayed well and easy to discover related content. This time I just wanted to share with you some simple links to my favorite websites that I read on a weekly basis that meet this criteria.

  1. The Great Discontent – (TGD) is a magazine featuring interviews on beginnings, creativity, and risk
  2. 99U – 99U is a site dedicated to bringing “the action-oriented insights that you didn’t get in school, highlighting real-world best practices for making ideas happen”
  3. Ted.com – Ted is “a platform for ideas worth spreading” where written word and videos help share these ideas
  4. The Sweet Setup – Sweet Setup states that they “enjoy spending an inordinate amount of time and energy to research, test, and find the very best apps”
  5. Signal & Noise – Signal & Noise is brought to use by Basecamp and it’s staff where they dive into a little bit of everything

And those are my top 5 go to websites right now for inspiration and learning. What about yourself. If there is any I missed please leave a comment below and let us all know what we may be missing.