Friday, June 26, 2015

One Rule That Would Change the Internet

Days like today, Facebook makes me queasy.

With the SCOTUS decision to make same sex marriage the law of the land, there was no way my news feed wasn't going to blow up with strong opinions on both sides.

And it's not just this issue. Pick any other big news day and the same thing will happen. It's not the strong opinions that bother me. (I have a few of my own.) It's the way we express them. We seem to have lost our collective ability to do anything other than preach to the choir. Conservative or Progressive, we all do it.

You may be partially right. You may even be all right. But what good does it do to take a tone that says, "Here, folks, is the plain, simple truth of the matter, and anyone who doesn't see it my way is an idiot / backward / hateful / ignorant"? Doing so may get you lots of likes, shares and pats on the back from people WHO ALREADY AGREE WITH YOU (hello Matt Walsh), but does it accomplish anything else? I can't think of much.

So here's what I propose: What if we spread a new rule of thumb for social media?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

We're Not Having the Conversation We Think We're Having

Baltimore Gives Us a New Chance to Get It Right

I am a terrible blogger.

If you want to be a real, grown-up blogger, you have to have an opinion on every current event. Even if you don't have an opinion, you have to get one, and then you have to write a post about it. You have to give it a title that grabs people's attention and makes them click on the link. You get bonus points if you start your post by letting readers know that you're the only one on the whole wide Internet who understands what's really at stake in the issue. 

It makes me tired just thinking about it. 

So while my news feed was blowing up with Ferguson, Missouri, I wrote nothing. And while every other item was about the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, I wrote nothing. But I was thinking. 

And now, here we are again—watching, crying, wondering, and maybe fuming as Baltimore erupts in violence. This time, I need to get some of these thoughts out...


It was the hashtag that got me. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Focus Leadership Institute: What Went Wrong?

Read part 1: Requiem for the Focus Leadership Institute 
Read part 2: What Went Right

I handled alumni relations for the entire time that the Focus Leadership Institute was in decline. Because of my time in that role, I know many graduates were surprised to hear this week that the program has been discontinued.

What in the Sam Hill happened?

For those who attended back when there were more than 2 applicants for every seat, it's hard to imagine that FLI ended up struggling the way it did. But believe me, we struggled. My last few semesters, we operated with fewer than 20 students, down from a sustained high of 88 students (2000-2007). The threat of closure hung over our heads constantly.

Since our job was equipping future leaders, one last service I can do is to reflect on what caused the decline. I write about in hope that others can learn from our mistakes and avoid them.

Focus Leadership Institute: What Went Right

[If you haven't read my previous post, it's here.]

People. Will you read the comments on this Facebook post? And this one?

We sound like a cult. #kiddingnotkidding

Seriously? One semester made that much of a difference to so many people? And it sounds like nothing ever went wrong.

With the announcement that the Focus Leadership Institute is closing, it's natural that many of us are seeing our time there through rose-colored glasses.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Requiem for the Focus Leadership Institute

I was over it.

I've been gone from there for a year and a half. And I was fine. Until I saw the comments on the FLI Facebook page under the announcement that the program is closing today. So now I'm grieving again.

Twenty years. More than 3000 students. Lives transformed. I was one of them.

400 Years of Silence. Or Something Like That.

It's been ... um ... a little while since I've written.

Like, a year. 

My friend Abby—whose oldest 3 children are a boy and twin girls, 21 months apart—once told me that when the twins were born, she just lost a whole year of her life. Not like her life expectancy was shortened by a year, but like a whole year went by and she didn't know what had happened. 

I relate. 

Being a family of five still feels like a new crazy!

Elijah (kid #3) turned one this month. I have no idea where that year went.