Do you drink the Kool-aid?

I’m a pretty trusting guy. I grew up in a community called Plow Creek Fellowship, an intentional community church that was featured in Newsweek the same week they featured the Jonestown mass suicide, when a whole ton of people committed suicide together by drinking poison-spiked fruit punch of some kind. The implication: is Plow Creek another cult? (No, I don’t believe it was or is.)

Because of my background in communal living, I think twice when I hear people talking about ‘drinking the Kool-Aid.’

It came up in some sales training I took a couple years ago. The idea was this: we have the best way to sell and if you buy in now and learn our process, you will be the better for it (rich). So buy-in immediately, don’t bother with your skepticism if it seems ‘weird.’ Several times the trainers used the phrase “Drink the Kool-Aid.”

That’s when our natural skepticism ought to rise up like bile within our throats and say “Hold on a sec.”


Because effective techniques (whether you’re being trained in sales, leadership, coaching, ministry, business or being taught whatever else) ought to be self-evident to intelligent observers.

If you see something that doesn’t look like it would work on you, it probably won’t work on other people either. (Problem is, it’s being used ON people).

On the other hand, when you see something that makes sense, just good ol’ common sense, something you’d find attractive, a way you’d like to be treated, there’s no Kool-Aid to drink; you’re just in. We’re not all killing ourselves for this thing. Dying to yourself isn’t the same as drinking Kool-Aid, which has an implication of throwing common sense out the window and following a crazy leader into the abyss.

Dying to yourself doesn’t mean throwing your life away in foolish pursuits.


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The author lives in Goshen, Indiana with his wife and four children. He is self-employed as a leadership coach working with business executives, writers and other artists, and spiritual leaders. His clients enjoy business growth, increased vision and purpose, work/family lifestyle balance, and freedom from writer’s block.

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