Scary Answers

I teach a class called “Imagination” as part of the core curriculum for Entrepreneurship at OSU.  The OKSU OSU.  I teach and assign projects in an “Open Ended” manner, on purpose.  Even when I explain, “If I tell you how to do a journal entry, and what topics to cover, I would not have seen the 20+ formats I have seen work creatively for  so many students.”

Three students will drop the class immediately when we leave the room.

One bright eyed, intent student will ask, “How many words do you want in an entry?”

We have taught students in years of schooling that there is one correct answer, the teacher’s way of doing things, and no matter what the teacher says, she is absolutely looking for one answer in the discussion.  She will smile through all the other answers, but she ends the discussion when we arrive at the right answer.

In creativity, and in innovation, we can find hundreds of answers, and all might work. — with work.

Christianity seems similar.  Many people accept that we are a mess, in need of saving, and God did this elaborate, astonishing thing in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that we only have to accept.  One answer.  Does not demand too much to accept.

Craig Groeschel preached this morning in his Selfless series.  He described how to see God in the moment (even in the grind) and develop new answers, new growth, see the tough things through to the end.

Crickets.  Twenty people applaud, and the rest sit in super quiet mode, eyes a little glazed over.  Millions of correct answers — with work.  Too much for some people.

The on”oanswer fits all” is a great way to build audiences, to increase church attendance.  The millions of possible answers, the kind we must work out not knowing if we are right, trusting through the falling on your face times, and trusting God is guiding — builds Christ followers.

Graduate from the answers Someone else constructed, so you only have to answer “I accept” or “I am afraid” to the answers that mutate, grow, stretch us, slap us into next week, and force us to depend on God to follow God.

It is scarier, more demanding, and full of pitfalls, like all good adventures.

Smaller Giants

S Cubed has the same name as his father and grandfather.  So his name is S-S but if they extended the names back three generations, it would be S-S-S or S Cubed!

He is brilliant.  Has a PhD and is back for an MSE in Entrepreneurship to craft businesses that make a difference in his beloved country.  I have watched an astonishing growth, evolution in him over the semester.

He came frustrated with the impotence and escapism he finds in many from his country.  Many students if they make it to America and can stay, then the family is thrilled that “one has made it” out of the maelstrom.  Their maelstrom is his beloved country.

He also arrived in my class with a deep understanding of issues, and an equally deep sense that his solutions needed to address challenges on all their levels, at all the root causes.  That connected and grew his challenges to the level of “poverty” and “education” the usual list of suspects.  All so large that jousting with them only leaves Sancho Panza mortified and Don Quixote befuddled.

Enter ‘better questions’.  I simply said I would not waste another hour on “the discussion” of such massive problems.  I asked, if he might scale a question down far enough that it becomes  “a giant you could kill?”

He wrestled all by himself for thirty minutes and shrunk down to “infant mortality”.  By the time that Bridgette returned to the table he had five things that we could package and provide cheaply, half of which were wet wired  into the multiple tribes’ lore and culture already.

With a giant “that small” he could find five stones, that if well aimed, might bring down this giant, and his five kinsmen backups.  Evil giants come with backups.  They are chicken like that.

Of all the possible outcomes of entrepreneurial thinking, S Cubed’s crazy form of possibility thinking is the sort that might change a man, S Cubed.  Or equally as good, give life to infants that would have otherwise been sad statistics under Giant Banners like Poverty, seemingly so large that one could never overcome them.


People who humble me.

I have a privilege once a year.  

Our School of Entrepreneurship brings in 42-25 vets, many of them wounded where you can see it, and a few where you have to talk to them for a while before the wound(s) are obvious. 

I get to walk through their Hermann Brain Dominance Instruments with them.  I have learned a few things over the past four years after a 160 in depth encounters and conversations. 

A lot of people pay for us to fly these vets in from across the country and allow them to drink from a fire hydrant for eight days, and go home to continue launching their businesses.   What did I learn from that?

I have never seen a more grateful group.  The vets who return home and find people who invest in them simply because they served our country are almost all overcome, some to tears, that someone would say “Thank you” so clearly.  Find concrete ways to express your sentiments, or your simply sentimental.  

It is weird for them to come home and see what a small part of our lives that the war actually plays.  One vet cited some grafitti in Falujah that is in English and reads: “America is not at war.  America is at the mall.”  For these who have been in harm’s way, buried friends, not seen families consistently for a year or four, had friends commit suicide on returning home, or who are rebuilding their body without legs after an IED took their legs and a friend — it is hard.  Thank them when you see them.  Make it a little less weird, if not a little easier.  

They have a variety of opinions about Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet, and yet they went and served.  

They defy categorization.  I have seen their test scores, and they are as different as night is from day, all over the mental and personality map, and this sounds trite: unique.  Don’t stereotype them.  

If the governmental rationale to take the fight with militants, terrorists, and jihadists from New York’s trade center to their neighborhoods has a shred of sense, the least I owe the vets is a small thank you for fighting somewhere besides my neighborhood.  Thanks for living the horror 24/7 for a tour or four so that neither me nor my family has to fight in our neighborhood, nor lose sleep over who hates us vehemently every night, all night.  

Something else is curious about them.  They are more likely to succeed in launching their businesses than “civilians”.  I can’t help but wonder if slogging through failures that are constant in war, directives that are questionable but demand your absolute obedience of orders, and above all, some sense of owing your best if not your life to your team — does not uniquely qualify them for a higher degree of success in entrepreneurship.  

This year I did better.  I only had to turn away from one man who I got to speak to at the first banquet, and after hearing his dream for producing athletic wear and patting him on one of his two leg prostheses, I had to look away to wipe my tears.  Then I was able to hear his dream for his business. 

We forget.  

Churchill said it and we forget it at our peril.

“Never have so many owed so much to so few.”   We can be at the mall because they gear up to explore the halls of valor.  Find concrete ways to express thanks.