It’s Me.

I have this love/hate relationship with marketing myself.

On the one hand, a [probably false] sense of humility pushes me away from building a personal brand. I don’t want to be about myself, I don’t want to be the big-shot (or rather, I have a temptation to want to become the big shot, but at the same time I know I’m no Jon Bon Jovi). Afraid of becoming the head of a personality cult (unlikely as we all know that is) I sabotage my own potential. I shy away from sharing all of myself with everyone. I worry about this: Do businessmen who want training in coaching care that I’ve written a novel? Do artists want to donate toward the mission causes I serve? Will my readers care what I think enough to engage with me personally as a coach? Maybe they don’t, or won’t, but maybe they should. Because I’m afraid, I compartmentalize in an unhealthy way. That means for the past few years, I’ve scattered blog posts over six or eight different blog sites rather than having one blog that’s just me. I haven’t built a personal brand very well because of this. I’m hurting you, my readers, by holding back; and I’m hurting myself.

My favorite Super Bowl commercial from 2015 was the Locktite glue spot, with very ordinary (i.e. not-Hollywood-beautiful) people singing and dancing about how Locktite saved their lives/marriages. The first words of the commercial, sung by a very much unknown actor, were “It’s me:” And the song continues: If you make a thing or break a thing, it’s no problem.

I found the “It’s me” to be hilariously understated irony. Who is “me”? Everyman? Who is this guy? The purpose of a lot of art is to say “It’s me” but then to expound upon that concept in a way designed to impress.

But the people in the ad were so genuinely abandoned to the party for their love for this glue, that I wanted some glue. I mean, I wanted that glue bad. Because it was funny and I LOVE funny. These guys were ME. I wanted to be part of them. Watch it here.

The other lesson from the ad was that the company itself went all in. I like that. I respect it. It’s gutsy, American to the core. They spent their entire ad budget for the YEAR on this 30 second spot: $4.5 MILLION. No compartmentalization. No little billboard over here for one type of industrial glue, little magazine ad over there for a glue for home use. Just a hard-core, one-shot branding exercise. I don’t have stats, but I suspect it’s working. Look: I’m still talking about it!

I feel confident that God is going to bring the work, the funds, and the readers that I need to survive and thrive. He will bring the team around me I need to really dance, a team I can gel with, even be glued to. The donors for my nonprofit work, the clients for my for-profit work, the readers for my quirky stories. There’s something about building a personal brand that has always felt very self-serving. But if God is going to do some work in and through me, I have to do my part in developing a personal brand, so my unique design (with which I serve Him) can be seen for what it is, and supported, not so much for who I am as some great personality, but for the whole picture of whom God shows Himself to be, through me. That’s why I’m ditching all the offshoot blogs in favor of just one blog.

It’s me. Not to impress, but to be known as a whole, to provide a unique perspective on creation and the Creator.

So join my journey. It’s still hard for me to say: Follow me on Twitter @adamgfleming or subscribe to my newly-transparent blog at www.adamgfleming.com.

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A Mobilized Kingdom Proletariat

It always bothered me that people ran off to various places to go get blessed. In medieval times, it was Jerusalem. Go on Crusade, come home with a piece of the Cross or a bit of dirt from Golgotha in the toes of your sandal. Your life will never be the same. Or, you’ll die in the process, which, considering what it’s like to be a serf, might not matter much. Who wants to be a serf when it just means grubbing for a living:

DENNIS:  Oh king, eh, very nice.  An’ how’d you get that, eh?  By
exploitin’ the workers — by ‘angin’ on to outdated imperialist dogma
which perpetuates the economic an’ social differences in our society!
If there’s ever going to be any progress–
WOMAN:  Dennis, there’s some lovely filth down here.  Oh — how d’you do?
ARTHUR:  How do you do, good lady.  I am Arthur, King of the Britons.
Who’s castle is that?
WOMAN:  King of the who?
ARTHUR:  The Britons.
WOMAN:  Who are the Britons?
ARTHUR:  Well, we all are. we’re all Britons and I am your king.
WOMAN:  I didn’t know we had a king.  I thought we were an autonomous
collective.

In the 1990s it was Toronto Airport, or Pensacola, FL. A Holy Spirit Vacation (HSV) is like Short Term Mission Tourism. And if you got blessed or your life was significantly changed at one of these, that’s great. I want to be clear to acknowledge some of the values of such trips though this post may be pretty anti-HSV.

HSVs are okay, I guess. I’m not saying we should never attend them. But there is a little bit of entertainment value and not always a lot of long-term raising up of leadership inherent in such activities. Consider, first, that usually you’re going somewhere else. (I love to go somewhere else. I would almost always prefer to be somewhere else. I almost have a problem with wanting to be somewhere else, and when other people get to go somewhere else, I feel jealous.) When you go somewhere else, you’re out of context, unless you stay for seven years. YEARS. By then, you’re not somewhere else, you’re just there.

Real leadership happens here. Or there, after seven years.

I got shook up about always wanting to be somewhere else by reading the Tao Te Ching. “Heaviness is the root of lightness. Serenity is the master of restlessness. Therefore, the Sage, travelling all day, does not part with the baggage-wagon; Though there may be gorgeous sights to see, He stays at ease in his own home.” Tao 26

These scenarios — either visiting a church or conference to hear anointed speakers, etc. or going on short term missions … they all happen somewhere else.  Or they’re highly sought after imports. And that’s very attractive. It truly does alter your world view to travel, and that has a LOT of value. So I’m not trying to say we should never go do anything or hear someone speak.

Perhaps the biggest concern I have about HSVs is that we might become a bourgeoisie Kingdom of God from waiting for the handout of bread and circuses from a Mighty Throne.

I think the key to being an Anointed Listener is that we offer the opportunity for regular people, right here (or there) to be the salt and light right now, without them having to go somewhere else. This moves us from a lazy bourgeois mentality where we wait for things to come to us in the form of “anointed” entertainment or travel somewhere to get excited, into a mobilized proletariat (the root of the word propetariat is ‘proles’ meaning child-bearing. A mobilized proletariat is a group of common workers who intentionally and frequently bear children). Bearing children is what we really want the common person in the Kingdom to be about. Anointed speakers are a rarity, a luxury, a bath in rhetorical salts and oils, a balm, a  cool breeze, and something we (those who attend) don’t have to work very hard for. And they’re usually somewhere else. (As the adage goes, an expert is someone who’s more than fifty miles away). Anointed listeners should be here, there, and everywhere, but never somewhere else. Marxist language aside, the point is that anointed listening mobilizes a work force, while anointed speaking can breed complacency. Anointed listening creates an atmosphere where the proletariat of the Kingdom is empowered to BIRTH CHILDREN into the Kingdom, and anointed speaking has a the side-danger of causing me, of inviting us to expect that you (or the Holy Spirit) would do it for us, turn us on, entertain us. Smells like Teen Spirit?

So as I’m training people in the future, my prayer will always be that they’ll become anointed listeners. The world doesn’t really need so many more anointed speakers. They are everywhere (else). The world does need more anointed listeners. People have jokingly accused me that the coaching world is just a big MLM scam; you get training so you can train others so they can train others to listen, but nobody ever makes a career out of it. YES. YES it is. Because we need good listeners, anointed listeners, here, there and everywhere. And no, not many people can make a career out of it. I’m starting to realize that though that’s what I want, it’s not really the point to make a career out of it. The point is to mobilize a Kingdom proletariat and birth new Children into the Kingdom.

A Car Goes Nowhere Without Fuel

Alternator, pistons, axles, tires, fuel pump and spark plugs, none of it worth a darn without some fuel in the tank.

Your emotions contain your motivation, and without tapping into that reservoir of fuel it’s pretty hard to actually change your behavior.

This week I was asked what license I was giving my trainees when I suggested that they ask questions about emotions. Isn’t that a little too close to counseling?

No, it’s not. It cleans the dirt out of the lines and helps people access what they really need for growth and change.

Fermata

When we’re really trying hard to ask a great question that will open up miles of possibilities, we take a stab at it when there’s a three second pause. We’re so eager! But leaving the pause intact can be a lot like observing the “rest” or fermata in music. If you don’t endure the suspense, you kill the moment. But if you can endure …

Often times the best stuff someone has to say is after you’ve avoided finishing their sentence, avoided putting a question mark in the middle of their fermata, after you’ve waited what seems an eternity but is probably only 30 seconds – that’s six or seven breaths for most of us – and the gold mine appears. Whatever it is (that really important thing) that someone is trying to say is said after the pause.

If you want to try it, next time someone is having trouble finishing their phrase, try exhaling regularly six times. (Don’t ‘count to ten’ or you’ll be rushing like a sixth-grade snare drum player).