The Key to Doing is…

yc-all-black-200This week Marko and I are hosting The Summit for the 2nd time. It’s a TED-talk style event for youth workers, 18 presenters each delivering a 12-15 minute talk on a topic related to an overarching theme.

It’s a gathering of a few hundred people looking to have their imaginations sparked, new ideas ignited, and fellow sojourners more interested in helping youth ministry find new realities than hanging onto the past.

It’s About Doing

Can you believe all that we’re doing?” Marko or I ask ourselves this a lot. Because we really are doing a lot of stuff right now.

And we laugh a lot. Because it’s funny how much we are doing.

Conventional wisdom says that if you try to do too much, quality will slip. Well we’re actually finding the opposite to be true with the Cartel. In 2013 we have done substantially more stuff and all of it is better than the stuff we did in 2012. So that’s an easy one to prove wrong. I flat out deny the concept of organizational entropy. (That an organization naturally turns to crap over time.)

So what’s your secret?

Our secret isn’t much of a secret.

  • It’s about doing. Seriously, the thrill of jumping into the unknown and probably dangerous is alluring in and of itself. Sometimes we try things just to prove it can be done.
  • It’s about simplicity. I’ve been around the block a few times. When a deal or an event or a program or a product sounds really complicated… I’m not that interested. I’m drawn to things which are ultimately simple and make sense. If I can’t explain something to myself in a few seconds, I am highly likely to pass.
  • It’s about obviousness. Some of our greatest successes have been things that are entirely obvious. Whether it’s a Lent or Advent devotional, a book for teenagers about Zombies, or bringing open source to organizing a youth ministry training event. All of those things aren’t that risky. But they are worth doing because they are obvious to us.
  • It’s about having fun. I’m 37 years old. I’ve sweated my way through enough stuff I hate. Seriously, doing stuff that you hate in hopes that one day you’ll prove yourself enough into a dream job is a joke. It’s never going to happen. Find something you love, make it fun, and work stops being so work-y and starts becoming more joyful.
  • It’s about vision and audacity. We have done a lot of stuff simply because no one else had the guts to do it. If it moves our simple vision of “Instigating a revolution in youth ministry” forward, it makes sense, it’s simple: We’re likely to do it. You don’t call yourself a Cartel then wuss out on audacity.
  • It’s about finding galaxies where others assume only darkness persists. Seriously. Rather than worry about things we can’t control we simply look into the vastness of the possibilities of ministering to adolescents… and all we see is opportunity. Someone told me we couldn’t do an event in Seattle or Boston that “worked.” People laughed at me about Open Paris. pfft. All of those were profitable from every measurement angle.

Some see darkness, I see opportunity. That’s the secret.


By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

One reply on “The Key to Doing is…”

Leave a Reply