The Leadership Summit – Day One
Day one of the summit was pretty amazing. It started with an opening message by Bill Hybels the senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. The title of his message was “The High Drama of Decision Making”. It was classic Bill Hybels, but what I most appreciated was the part of his talk where he talked about his new book Axiom. These leadership “proverbs” that he has spent the last 30 years saying, but not until this book had he put it all on paper in book form. He mentioned several Axioms during his talk and I’ve listed the ones that really meant the most to me below:
“facts are your friends” – leaders need to have facts they help you know to a large degree what is going on and you can speak in an educated way on a particular issue.
“when something feels funky – engage!” – leaders know when things are getting a little awkward or unsettled among their leaders and members and that is the time to address the problems and not let them fester.
“leaders call foul” – as a leader when we blow it we have to speak up and let people know we know that we blew it or didn’t act appropriately.
“take a flyer” – the idea of taking a calculated risk
The second speaker on Day 1 was truly inspirational, engaging, hilarious, and passionate. His name is Gary Haugen and he is the President and CEO of International Justice Mission. The title of his talk was Just Courage: Charging the Darkness. He has had an incredible career but left the traditional attorney jobs to pursue his passion for helping the abused, oppressed, and those suffering under the tyranny of injustice. I would say he had one of the top two messages on Day 1 and I plan to get his book. The key point I took away from his message was, “Lead in the things that matter to God.” Awesome talk!
Bill George was up next and did an excellent job sharing about leading through difficult times and even tragedy. Along with his success as the president of major corporations he has suffered his share of tragedies, and yet has come through them deeply committed to Christ, and now using what he calls “the last part of his life” in service for the kingdom, and not himself. His message was called Finding Your True North and the thing I took away from his message had to do with how he answered the question, “What happened to the leaders who started out well but ended up failing miserably and not finishing well?” His answer: “they failed to lead themselves.”
Next up was an interview with Wendy Kopp the co-founder and CEO of Teach for America. Christina and I both where deeply moved by her, and clearly had this interview as our #2 favorite talk of the day. Wendy’s organization recruits the best and the brightest from major Universities around the country and then convinces them to spend a year or longer in an inner-city school teaching. Powerful!