Keeping Creative Meetings Creative | Gavin Adams

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Gavin Adams shares with us 5 points from his blog he wrote titled “10 Rules to Keep Creative Meetings Creative”

Podcast Notes


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Blog Post : 10 Rules to Keep Creative Meetings Creative


Podcast Transcription


Bart Blair: [00:00:15] Gavin Adams, welcome back to the Missional Marketing podcast, I’m really excited that you could be with me. I would say be with us, but obviously, we just got a text from my co-podcasting partner, that’s what he would be, Jason Hamrock, my co podcasting partner, that he got tied up in another meeting and wasn’t going to be able to make it. But I’m glad to have the opportunity to hang out with you.

Gavin Adams: [00:00:37] I feel the same.

Bart Blair: [00:00:38] So the last time you were on our show was the summer of 2021, so it’s been about a year and a half, and at that time you were going through some pretty significant vocational and ministry transitions. So why don’t you just kind of give us a little bit of backstory in terms of what you were doing at that time, the transition you’ve made, and what’s been happening here for the last year and a half?

Gavin Adams: [00:00:59] Yeah, I’ll make it really quick. I spent a, gosh, 13 years as a lead pastor of Woodstock City Church, and that’s a campus location of North Point Ministries. So I did that for a long time, longer than I ever thought I would, not because of the job, but just because 13 years seems like a long time for anything for me. But I did that for 13 years and I had a couple of things happen, great things happen where I interviewed for another job at one point and then finished my educational stuff and kind of the combination really made me, it forced me to decide if I felt like the season of leading at that local church was ending and maybe God was opening up something else to do. And so in the other job, some of that didn’t work out the way I thought it might, I still felt like it might be time to go and processed that for a good while with Andy and all the guys at North Point and eventually decided it was. So I left in August of 2021, August the first was my last Sunday, so preached and then walked out to the sunset. And I had a really, really relaxing month out of that. Everybody who’s in ministry knows there’s just a unique way that you carry. I had people tell me before I started the ministry job at the weight was going to be harder and I just thought they were bad leaders. Then I realized that, nope, it’s true. So I shed some of that weight in a good way, immediately, and you could tell, and I got really to work as quickly as I can helping churches.

Gavin Adams: [00:02:22] And so, I love leadership and I love strategy, I say this so much, but without a system or without a strategy, all success we have is accidental and unrepeatable. And then even worse, when something isn’t working, you can’t fix it because you don’t know why it’s worked, or why it’s not working now. So I just love that strategy aspect of ministry, and of course, the way the world continues to evolve so quickly, right? The faster that pace of change, the more we have to adapt, the more we have to remodel church models, and the more we have to systematize what we’re doing or rethink and re-systematize. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last year and a half, and working with lots of different churches, you know, in three different roles. Just very quickly, I do a lot of things done for people, I do a lot of longer-term consulting engagements and a lot of preaching and work and things like that, but just kind of do some done with you, and done by you stuff. Done with you, a lot of master classes and small group experiences where we get together and dig into things like church models or generosity and volunteer systems and all the things that we need to have happen in our churches, discipleship pathways. And then I have courses and products and things like that that people can do on their own. So yeah, how’s that for an answer? Is that quick enough?

Bart Blair: [00:03:31] No, that’s really good, Gavin. You know that you come from a church, and you’re in a ministry that is very strategic in terms of the way that ministry is done. Do you come by being a strategist naturally? Is that something that you just feel like God has wired you to do?

Gavin Adams: [00:03:51] Yeah, I don’t know how, I just assumed everybody was this way until I grew up and realized that I was weird and I don’t know how not to do that. I, you know, I’m on a four-lane highway, and I pull up to a red light and I’m evaluating every, I mean, I don’t just get in the shortest lane, I’m evaluating every car in every lane, what kind of driver? I’m very judgmental in this, but what kind of driver I suspect is in each car. Which one is not pulled up as far as they could to the line because I want to go fast as I can through this light? So, I mean, it’s exhausting to be me, but everything is a strategy. And so, which I think makes for some good organizational decisions, it also can be tiring. So, and what I found is just like, love, I mean, the kind of phrase I use a lot on my website is adding intention to your mission. But what I have found, and this is what we all believe in ministry, is that there’s no mission more important than the mission of the local church. And so if any mission is going to have intention behind it, and if any mission is going to be driven with really great strategies and systems and things like that, it really should be the local church. And in no way taking God out of that, but we talk a lot, give me 10 seconds on this, if you don’t mind. But, you know, I talk to so many churches, and I love this, too, we want to talk about the local body, the local church as an organism. And it’s true, it is an organism, but I’ve yet to see any organism function healthily without organization. I mean, think about our bodies, right, like our bodies are so well organized and put one viral cell in, to throw it into disorganization, and watch what happens to the organism. Right? So helping these organisms, these local churches become as organized as they can, that’s the thing that just fires me up. I love doing that.

Bart Blair: [00:05:32] Yeah, that’s very cool. I can’t help but envision, you know, for 20 years I lived in Canada and so several times a year we would drive across the US-Canadian border and one of the games that we always played was which customs line is going to move the fastest? I wish I had you in the car with me, maybe I would have gotten through a lot faster.

Gavin Adams: [00:05:49] I play that game everywhere I go.

Bart Blair: [00:05:50] Yeah, I get that. Well, hey, I think that actually, you’ve set us up very well for the topic of conversation that I wanted to have with you today in terms of talking about strategies and plans. You know, many of the people who listen to this podcast or watch on our YouTube channel come from a very creative space. We have a lot of communications directors, creative directors, and people that are involved in the creative development of weekend worship services, outreach events, and activities. And one of the things that I’ve noted in my life and in my ministry is that creatives often fail to have the kind of discipline, structure, and strategies to their creative process that will actually enable them to have the most success and to execute well. And so at the time that you and I are recording this podcast, I know for a fact that many of my friends working in churches are sitting around a room with their teams dreaming about Easter because that’s the season we’re in. We’re recording this in January, and churches are having their creative planning meetings for their Easter services, Easter outreach events, their post-Easter callback series, and anything and everything that they’re doing. And you have a blog post on your website that caught my attention, Ten Rules to Keep Creative Meetings Creative. It just, seems contradictory that we would create rules in order to be more creative. But I wanted to talk through this blog post with you, this topic of conversation to those that are listening, to those that are about to go into a creative planning meeting and give them some rules, give them some guidelines or some guardrails that might actually help them get the most out of their experience.

Bart Blair: [00:07:36] Now we’re only going to cover the first five that we’re on your list. There are ten on the list, we’re going to talk about five of them today. We’re going to put a link to the full blog post in our show notes, so if you’re listening to this or you watching it and you want to go read the other five, I advise that you do. But let’s start with the number one that I have on our list here to discuss, Gavin, and that is you just simply say, don’t kill a bad idea too soon. Why is that an important rule for us?

Gavin Adams: [00:08:04] Yeah, well, let me back up one second, then I’ll address that rule. As much as I’m a strategist, and this is probably a weird brain problem with me, I’m an artist as well. So I’m a cartoonist, or was, I guess I’m a non-practicing artist now. But I love ideas, I love creativity. Actually, strategy is creativity, it just looks different. So solving problems is creative work, and so what I found constantly as a creative myself who just loves ideas, is that we were walking into these creative meetings and we were having creative meetings once a week, right? We’re designing church services every seven days, it feels like every three or four. So we’re constantly creating, and we want every experience to be great. We want it to not just be a great experience, we want it to drive steps, and we want to do things beyond just creating a moment. And so we’re having all these incredibly creative ideas, these meetings, and too often I think we walked out of these meetings either without allowing the best ideas to surface because they got shut down or what have you, or we walked out with an idea we latched on to in the very beginning, which shut the rest of the process down anyway. So as a creative, I walked out feeling like we might not be getting the best out of the creative meetings. So we did, we created these ten rules for our creative meetings.

Gavin Adams: [00:09:23] So number one, don’t kill a bad idea too soon. I kind of started embracing the phrase, which I know a lot of people do, but this is probably a bad idea, but. I would say it constantly, and I learned to say it because if I didn’t, it was a bad idea and people would point it out and then we would move on to something else. And so when I could acknowledge that this might be a bad idea, but, what it typically did is give everybody a space to pause and listen. And you know this, in an ideation kind of session in a room, bad ideas are often the birthing grounds for the greatest ideas. But if we shut the bad idea down too quick, we don’t allow it to birth or evolve into what it could be. So we just had a rule, you just don’t kill ideas in the beginning. We may put them on the parking lot side of the whiteboard, but we’re not going to nix anything in a creative meeting because that’s what it is, it’s about creativity.

Bart Blair: [00:10:20] Yeah, yeah, that’s really cool. I think that you know, there’s a strategy to brainstorming, and one of the things that you want to do when you brainstorm is making sure that you give everybody an opportunity to share their ideas and their thoughts without shutting anything down, even if it feels like a bad idea, even if it feels like it’s out of left field, even if it feels like it doesn’t align with the strategy or what you’re trying to accomplish because it might actually lead to someone else’s idea. You said, don’t kill a bad idea too soon. I would even say don’t shut…A lot of people will not share their own idea because they think it’s a bad idea, so your idea might actually inspire someone else to come up with a creative idea.

Gavin Adams: [00:11:03] The reason, I’ll tell you, I mean, all ten I think are important, but in this one uniquely, and you just kind of alluded to it, that when you kill bad ideas to quick the people in the room who aren’t as secure in their role or their voice or whatever, they’re not going to share it. They’re not going to share their idea, because they were afraid of getting shut down. I mean, again, none of us are longing for more rejection in our life. And so we’re not going to share the idea if we think it’s going to get shut down too quickly. And to your point, and you know this, every room has people whose words carry more weight. I was a lead pastor for 13 years, so in every room I was in, my idea, unfortunately, good or bad, carried more weight than everyone else’s, and we had to figure out a way around that. And so not just saying it, but doing it, allowing people to share bad ideas. Listen, to be honest, I never told our team this, sometimes I would share horrible ideas on purpose just to make sure we weren’t killing them and to let the people around me who were younger, newer in their roles, maybe they didn’t feel as comfortable in the meeting, if they were like, well, if that idiot just shared that idea, my idea isn’t as bad anymore, right? So again, making that a rule, but then actually holding the rule in place, it’s so critical to engaging everyone in the meeting.

Bart Blair: [00:12:20] Yeah. All right. So number one, don’t kill a bad idea too soon. We’ll let you decide how long too soon is, you got to leave it on the whiteboard for a little while.

Gavin Adams: [00:12:29] You kill it when you end up choosing the idea that you’re going to go with, right? [Inaudibe] ideas at the end of the meeting, and then when you have a follow-up meeting where you’re not in creative mode, now you’re in decision-making mode, right, that’s when things get killed.

Bart Blair: [00:12:41] Yeah. Now the second one on the list here, I’m going to say that I was somewhat convicted, maybe not to current or recent events in my life, but looking back to creative planning meetings that I actually used to facilitate as the worship pastor and creative arts director in the church where I served, and that is in that meeting, this is the way you state this, stick to wow, not how. Why don’t you unpack that a little bit?

Gavin Adams: [00:13:09] Yeah, well, you know, I love how people, we need how people. If we just had a wow people, we get nothing done. So we need people who can orchestrate. The problem is, is that when we’re in the middle of an ideate, and then everybody wants to start orchestrating, it destroys the ideation. So we have to really delineate between is this meeting about ideas or is this meeting about implementation. And so that’s the difference, wow, and how. So we even adopted that common language, which again, common language is so important. We didn’t want to only invite the hyper creatives to every one of these creative meetings, we needed some people who could think through it with a more level head. The problem is, is that those more levelheaded thinkers oftentimes wanted to shut down the conversations because an idea seems so ridiculous that all they can think of is, how are we going to do this? Do we have the budget? Do we have time? Just all of those do we, do we, do we? And we need to answer those, but not yet, we save that for later.

Gavin Adams: [00:14:12] And so I can tell you, I won’t give you 100 examples, but I’ll give you one really quick one. I mean, we were doing a series, I loved the October season in the church because of the pairing with Halloween and the fall, you know, and there’s so much fun, biblical stuff you can do that feels a little bit, it leans into the mysterious side. So we did a series called Scared to Death, that I did. I had a bad idea that we couldn’t shut down because of the rule. We had a wow moment where I said, what if we created a really fun, haunted house experience in the lobby of the church? Just go with me for a minute, and we put cameras inside of it so that you could sit in the auditorium and have the cameras feed into the room, watch people be scared before they come into the church. You don’t have to go through it if you don’t want, but we get to watch the people who do. I thought it was brilliant, right? Now, immediately one of our staff members goes, well, that’s going to cost, and we have to get wood, and we have to like,…No, no, no, who cares? Like, you know, and then we ended up not doing it for lots of good. But that bad idea, because we didn’t allow it to be killed and we didn’t allow the how person to dominate that meeting, it led to some really good ideas around that series that were probably even better than a haunted house in the lobby of the church. But with all of that, with not letting the how person dominate it, it allowed it to evolve over time and, you know, like marinate with all of us, and it led to doing some really cool stuff with the series. But there’s a time and place for how, it just isn’t in the creative meeting.

Bart Blair: [00:15:47] Well, let me ask you a question then, this actually makes me think of something else. When you’re having a creative meeting, is it important in those early stages to maybe even decide who is, who should, and who shouldn’t be in those meetings? Would you create really some profiles of who? I mean, if you get too many hows in the room, then it’s really difficult to create the wow. What are your thoughts on that?

Gavin Adams: [00:16:13] Here’s the challenge, though, if you don’t have any of the orchestrators in the room, the people who are going to pull it off, if they are absent from the meeting, they’re absent from the conversation in the passion and the energy around it. And, you know, you can’t ask people to buy into something if they don’t get to weigh into it, that’s just a leadership principle, Right? So what we learned is, in the creative meetings, our creative people on the teams would get they were they would get so fired up, so excited, or orchestrators would be not quite as thrilled about the meeting. But that’s okay because we knew later in the week we were going to reverse the conversation and we were going to have an orchestration meeting and they were going to get to be the ones choosing and picking and killing stuff. Where the creative types got to, you know, we’ll talk about this later, but had to put their big boy pants on a little bit. And, you know, just because it’s a good idea doesn’t mean we can do it all the time, right? I mean, it’s a $1,000,000 idea, and it’s fantastic, but we’ve got 50 bucks so we can’t do it. So I enjoyed bringing in some of those orchestrators into the room and then coaching them through how to sit through the process, well, because they needed to hear where we were heading with the ideas. So as they even began orchestrating and building sets or whatever they were doing, they understood where it came from.

Bart Blair: [00:17:31] Hmm. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I’m going to give a plug for, and I’m going to assume that you’re at least familiar with the content of Patrick Lencioni’s 6 Types Of Working Genius.

Gavin Adams: [00:17:44] Absolutely.

Bart Blair: [00:17:44] We’ve done that with our team here at Missional Marketing, and it has been incredibly insightful. Not that we don’t include all six types of working genius in our planning meetings, and in our creative meetings, but going through that process is actually helped us all better understand who’s sitting in what seats and who’s actually going to be most engaged and most helpful in which process or part of the process of dreaming up ideas and then discerning those ideas and then executing on those ideas.

Gavin Adams: [00:18:18] So I would yeah, I would never suggest that a church does this, but the idea is right. You’ve seen, you maybe watch The West Wing or some show on the president, the White House, what have you. You know, there’s a boardroom table where the president, vice president, and whoever else is in director-level roles, is sitting around the table. And around the perimeter of the room, you have all of these supporting staff, the supports the infrastructure people. They’re not there to talk, they’re there to listen. You know, the people, the table talk, the people in the perimeter to listen. We’re never structured that way, but at least in the church. But when we would sit around a table and talk, we all sat around it. But our creatives knew that that was their space to be creative, our orchestrators knew, our how people knew, that that wasn’t the place for them to be very vocal, they needed to listen a lot more than talk in that moment. Because they knew that their day was coming, they knew that their meeting was coming, we weren’t going to do all 100 ideas, but if they began to get too vocal in the beginning, it shut the whole thing down. And so what it really gave me as a leader was an opportunity to coach them up on how to participate in those meetings well. And again, to like, you know, with the working genius, the more you know about yourself, the better you’re able to provide what God has gifted you uniquely to do in the spaces where you find yourself.

Bart Blair: [00:19:41] Yeah, yeah. And I would say as a leader, if you’re the person who’s in charge of that meeting, it’s important for you to have pretty good clarity on where people’s natural gifts things and where they lean. So one of the things that came clear for us as a team at Missional Marketing when we were going through The 6 Types of Working Genius, is that our CEO, Jason Hamrock is a W.I., he’s a wonder and invention guy. He just loves creating ideas and dreaming up new things, and he’s the kind of guy that he’ll fill the dry-erase board with creative ideas. While our CFO, is a T, I think at the other end of the widget, he’s the guy that likes to check off the boxes and get things done. And so they would sit in meetings and Jason’s coming up with 84 in his mind, the best ideas on the planet. And Kevin’s writing down the checklist of all the things he’s going to have to do, and he’s realizing he’s not going to be sleeping for the next six months. But in the middle, there is a group of people who are discerners and people who are equipping and empowering others in those. And it’s that middle group that actually helps you decide, hey, which of these 64 ideas, we can only do 3, which of the three are going to actually help us accomplish what we want to accomplish? Because there are 60-plus others that we just simply can’t or aren’t going to be able to do, and so it minimizes the actual execution work that needs to get done. And, you know, it gets you back to what you were saying just a minute ago, and we’ll talk about this in a moment, about some of those ideas get shut down, they get erased off the dry-erase board, and the people who came up with those ideas have to learn to live with that.

Gavin Adams: [00:21:15] That’s right. Well, I think it’s better, I think it’s just better as a leader to have diversity in every conversation. And so, and you name the version of diversity, it’s better to have it. So in this, you know, in a creative meeting is actually unhealthy to only have high creatives. Yeah, you need other people in there because you need their minds, you need their perspectives, and you need to see it the way that they see it. Because the more eyes we have on it, usually, the more holistically we’ll make decisions.

Bart Blair: [00:21:42] Yeah, that’s very cool. All right, let’s keep moving here. The third point that we want to emphasize here is, no dismissing ideas, but you can plus them. Why don’t you expand on that a little bit? What does that really mean? What is plusing an idea?

Gavin Adams: [00:21:59] I think this is, when we were creating these rules, this one came out because we sat around and talked about it honestly and we said, well, if you can’t kill an idea, no matter how stupid it is, and by the way, we know we’re not going to do it. So why are we even spending time on it, right, there was always that tension? And then we had the how people in the room, and they’re listening and trying so hard to bite their lip and keep their mouth shut. So what can we do to give everyone space to not shut it down? But let’s also call it what it is. So my friend Jason Hodges, he is on staff in Orlando at First Baptist Church of Orlando now, he was my production director for a decade. He’s a very close friend, this was his phrase, he came up with this, that we want to plus things. So the first time he said it, I made a note and I asked him later, I was like, we need to talk about that phrase more. So he said, okay, that’s an interesting idea, let me plus one that idea, what if we also. And so what it did is, it in a way redirected or course corrected sometimes good ideas, sometimes terrible ideas without telling the person, that’s a terrible idea. But we were able to kind of move it into a space that was either more achievable, more practical, or just better aligned with the series or the church or the mission, you know, what have you. So I just love that verbiage to plus something, not to dismiss something.

Bart Blair: [00:23:25] Yeah, you know, in my early adult life, I did some performing and worked in theater and took some improv classes and did some improv stuff. And one of the things when you’re doing improv, you’re trained early on, that when someone asks you a question in an improvised scene, you don’t ever want to say no. If they ask you a question, you want to say, yes, and, and then you go into the next thing. And so when I read that on your list, I was like, yeah, that’s kind of the, yes, and thing.

Gavin Adams: [00:23:54] It is. That is exactly what it is.

Bart Blair: [00:23:55] Yeah, that’s pretty cool. All right, no dismissing ideas, but you can plus them. All right, we’ve already alluded to this one a couple of times already. And this is, you’ve got to wear your big boy pants. Who’s got to wear their big boy pants, Gavin?

Gavin Adams: [00:24:09] Everybody. Yeah, everybody does, and we probably should not be too male about it, we’ve got to wear our big adult pants.

Bart Blair: [00:24:14] Yeah, put your grown-up pants on.

Gavin Adams: [00:24:17] Yeah, yeah, put your grown-up pants on. But, you know, I think the issue with this is when we come to creative meetings, and I’m the worst, I’m a creative person. And so I have ideas, and I think mine are the best because I created them, of course, they’re the best. And if you’re in a senior leadership role, especially like a senior pastor or what have you, you’re having a creative meeting for a series, you’re doing. Well, it’s your content, I mean, if anyone knows the direction and where you’re heading, it’s you. So to walk in with a predetermined idea and then have everyone around the table go, well, can we let me plus that, or okay, that’s a good idea, but here are some other ideas. We’re like, no, we don’t need other ideas, I just gave you the idea, right? So I think and again, I think it’s harder the higher up we go to let go of our darlings, right? Like, we know as authors, we say you’ve got to let go of your darlings, you’ve got to cut your darlings. So I think on one end you’ve got the more dominant people in the organization, they have to walk in acknowledging they have predetermined ideas that might not be the right ones, they get to put their big boy pants on and they have to be willing to admit that and listen. On the other side, you have people walking in with terrible ideas and they are bad ideas, and we’re not going to crush them, we’re not going to kill those ideas. But if your idea doesn’t make it, or it doesn’t become the idea, you can’t pout about it and you can’t kind of take your ball and go home, like, we have another meeting next week, we need you to bring your best to that meeting too. And so I think especially for the point leader, helping everybody recognize the value they bring, even if their idea isn’t taken. So when you see someone pouting or being dismissive or disengaging, the problem is they just didn’t wear their big boy pants that day, and it’s okay to acknowledge that and pull them aside. But I would remind everybody at the beginning of the meeting, you know, I wouldn’t use this terminology necessarily, but I would say, hey, we’re going to probably have tons of really bad ideas of this meeting, we’re going to probably have some good ones, if you think yours is good and nobody else agrees, that’s okay, but put your big boy pants on, you know, we can’t do it all anyway. So some verbiage that might be less offensive, but I like that we are, we’ve got to be adults about this, you know?

Bart Blair: [00:26:29] Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, that really makes a lot of sense, and it really hits home. And, you know, creative people do tend to be somewhat sensitive.

Gavin Adams: [00:26:38] I know, I am one, so I know.

Bart Blair: [00:26:40] Yeah. And, you add to the fact that when I’m creative and I do come up with ideas, I do sometimes grow very attached to my ideas. And, you know, the sign of a great collaborating team is one in which everybody contributes, and everybody’s ideas to some degree are demonstrated to have some value and some worth, but you can’t do everything every time. There are going to be times where your great idea, maybe it just doesn’t work now, and maybe it’ll work later in another time and another place.

Gavin Adams: [00:27:12] One specific thought about this, I think Brené Brown is the first person I heard say this. I don’t know if she made up the term, but it’s psychological safety. That if everybody can come to the meeting with their big boy pants on, we can have an unfiltered debate, unfiltered conversation, but if everybody is coming into the meeting with insecurity or they’re struggling to separate who they are and what they do, there are identity issues in that. When we have a roomful of that, you can’t get anywhere, because nothing is psychologically safe and no one feels safe. So you can’t even say, let me plus one that, or what if we, because then everybody gets their feelings hurt if even we like 95% of it but there’s 5% we want to make better. So I think just walking in, I mean, as if we all can do this all the time, but walk into these meetings as a facilitator or as a participant, knowing that we have to kind of bring our big people pants to the meeting. We have to walk in and allow our identity to not be determined by our idea. We have to walk in with acknowledging that our idea might not actually be the best idea, you know? And when we can all walk in that way, we can have an unfiltered debate, and then that’s what elevates the really good ideas.

Bart Blair: [00:28:31] Yeah, that’s a very good point. And for the sake of time, we’re going to move on to the next one, and I was glad that I decided we were only going to hit five of these instead of ten. And I’m just going to remind our listeners that there are ten points in this article, we’re only talking about the first five, and they’ve all been really good. We’ve been through four, this is the last one we’re going to hit in this discussion, but there are five more that you need to go to Gavin’s website and read. The last one that we’re going to talk about here, there is some personal conviction, and I have a personal story to share, but I want to let you unpack this a little bit. And this is, pay attention to how much you listen. Pay attention to how much you listen.

Gavin Adams: [00:29:05] Yeah, I mentioned this a little earlier, but I think so much, so many times we get in meetings and we nod our heads, but all we’re doing is thinking of what we’re about to say next. And we’ve already got it pre-loaded, we’re kind of like, ready, fire, aim. Right? Well, that’s not active listening, that’s just pretending. My dad would say constantly to me as a kid, are you hearing me or listening to me? And what he meant was, you’re nodding your head, but the words aren’t sinking in, you’re not really listening. Because you already have your comeback, you already have your defense, you already have your idea ready to go. So when we talk about listening, and this could not be more important for the senior leader in the room, whoever you are, right, senior pastor, or whoever has the biggest job in the room in the meeting, your words carry so much weight. And so you, I almost feel like the higher you are on the org chart, the more time you should spend listening in these meetings because your words are going to carry more weight than everybody’s and you have the potential to accidentally misdirect the meeting, to shut down the meeting, I mean, inadvertently, you can do so much more damage with your words because of the weight that they carry. So. I mean, I would tell some of our more senior leaders in their meetings, I’m like, hey, you’ve got three comments that you can make in this meeting, so use them well. You know, like if you use them in the first 5 minutes, man, it’s going to be a long meeting, you’re going to be sitting and listening a lot. So I think it’s important that we all do that, but of course, the higher you are in the org chart, the more that you spend time actively listening to the people around you.

Bart Blair: [00:30:36] I’ve heard stories that John Maxwell brings his leaders and his group together simply to ask them questions and to listen to the answers that they give. And if someone like John Maxwell, who is considered by some to be in probably top ten leadership gurus on the planet in the last so many years.

Gavin Adams: [00:30:56] We all consider him a great leader if nothing else.

Bart Blair: [00:30:57] Yeah, exactly, for sure. And so I said just a minute ago I read this and I had a little bit of personal conviction because here’s the reality, it’s pretty much impossible to listen when your mouth is open. Right? And I’m going to flashback about half of my lifetime ago, which was about 26 years ago, I was working in the corporate world, it was before I started working in a church. And I was advancing in the company that I was working in, and was part of a regular weekly lunch meeting where the controller of our division brought all of these leaders in, and I was kind of in the middle of the group. And we would eat lunch together and he would ask for ideas, and we would talk about different things. And to be perfectly honest, it was 26 years ago, I can’t even remember what things we were talking about. But here’s one thing I do remember, when we walked out of a meeting one time, I remember Scott pulling me aside and I remember him saying to me, hey, Bart, the next time we have this meeting, I want you to be the last one to talk in the meeting. And I was like, huh? Well, why is that? And he went on to say, you have great ideas, you always seem to have great insight, and everything that you contribute to the conversation is very helpful. He said, but because you tend to always be one of the first ones to talk, I think that there’s a possibility that there are other people in the room who might share some of the same ideas and some of the same insights that you do, but you’re not giving them an opportunity to share them before you do, and therefore they don’t know that they even have a place to contribute to the conversation now. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m still a work in progress 26 years later, I sit in a meeting and I’m sometimes just biting my tongue and sitting on my hands, and I’m trying to practice active listening, not just like waiting for that next thing to come out. It’s something that I have to work really, really hard to do. But I know that as I plan with other teams and when I bring teams together to work on things, that one conversation that I had 26 years ago, completely changed my perspective on the way that I participate in meetings. And so I appreciate you including that on the list, there’s the active listening piece, but there’s also the piece that’s just simply not being the one who’s always got the best idea in the room.

Gavin Adams: [00:33:09] Well, I mean, I’m a verbal processor. I’m an external processor, so I work better when I can extrovert, and I can ideate better. However, also we only have an hour meeting or a two-hour meeting, I can’t spend 45 minutes of it verbally processing. So I just think again, so much about this is self-awareness, but knowing who you are coming into these rooms, there are people with brilliant ideas who are going to be quiet or more introverted. Well, if the dominant external processor, or the leader with the heavily weighted words, if they’re the one always talking, we shut out potentially great, brilliant ideas because we’re not creating space by being quiet, honestly, and just listening.

Bart Blair: [00:33:51] Yeah, to finish up that story, I actually about a year ago, maybe a little less than a year ago, nine months ago or so, I had lunch with that boss or dinner. He lives in the Baltimore area and we got together for dinner, and I hadn’t seen him in probably close to 20 years. And I recounted that story for him, and I told him what impact that moment had made on me. And he looked at me and he goes, I said that? Wow, boy, I was pretty smart. You know, he’s like, that was the greatest thing about it is that he didn’t even realize that what he was telling me was going to help me the way that it’s helped me. So if you’re a leader and you’re listening to this, don’t downplay the influence that you have on others simply by telling them what they need to hear in a loving and caring way.

Gavin Adams: [00:34:33] And then displaying it, right?

Bart Blair: [00:34:34] Yeah, absolutely. All right, we’ve covered five rules to keep creative meetings creative. I’m going to recap them here real quick. Don’t kill a bad idea too soon. Stick to wow, not how. Number three is no dismissing ideas, but you can plus them. The fourth one, you’ve got to wear your grown-up britches, to rephrase that. Yeah, how are we going to phrase that? And finally, pay attention to how much you listen. If you are a creative director or part of the creative team in your church, these are five rules that I think will really serve you well if you can begin to implement these into your creative process. And again, make sure that you click over to Gavin’s website to read the other five because you can apply those five as well. I’ve mentioned your website several times, Gavin, why don’t you share with our audience a little bit of how they can learn more about what you’re doing in ministry, and how they can connect with you?

Gavin Adams: [00:35:31] Yeah, thanks. Yeah, just, that’s where it’s all located. I’ve got lots of free resources, courses, master classes, consulting engagements, and content content content to help leaders just like your listeners, be better at their jobs and lead the teams around them as best they can.

Bart Blair: [00:35:48] Thank you, Gavin. A little rumor that you’re working on a book. And so, one of these days when the earth is circled the sun another time, we’ll have you back on the show and hopefully, we’ll be able to be the beneficiary of learning some more wisdom and leadership from you. I appreciate you hanging out with me today.

Gavin Adams: [00:36:10] That’s kind of you to say, so, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

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