Monday, October 12, 2009


The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest thing is to respond. The hardest thing is to initiate. But CTK has become a phenomenal story because many people do the hardest thing and initiate ministry, in ways big and small. One of our values at CTK is empowerment. Empowerment, turned inside out, is initiative. I was struck recently by a story told in The Power of Small; Why Little Things Make All the Difference:

"When Linda first decided to open The Kaplan Thaler Group, she had once piece of Clairol's hair care business - Herbal Essences Shampoo, which she naively thought she could run from her Manhattan brownstone. Steve Sadove, her sole client and then-president of Clairol, tactfully suggested that Linda would at least need a business partner, since her expertise was in the creative side of advertising. Considering she had never run a company, or earned a business degree, Linda reluctantly agreed. Flipping through her Rolodex, she went on a frenzied search for the perfect partner. She wanted someone brilliant, assertive, collaborative, and challenging. The last person she was looking for was a 'yes' woman. She instinctively knew she needed someone with the moxie to tell her if the work was veering off track, or if her genius campaign idea would send a client's company into Chapter 11. She needed to hire an alter ego.

"After watching Linda eliminate more prospects than an American Idol audition, Steve stepped in again. He urged Linda to contact Robin Koval, who handled a number of other Clairol accounts at a large New York ad agency. Linda arranged to meet Robin at Michael's Muffins, a neighborhood coffee shop whose Formica decor was, to put it kindly, a far cry from the power-breakfast venues where Madison Avenue movers and shakers usually ordered their egg whites. Robin was intrigued. As fate would have it, she was also a tad hungry.

"When Linda walked in, there sat Robin at one of the wobbly tables with a giant bran muffin in front of her. The muffin had been perfectly sliced in two. She promptly introduced herself: 'Hi, I'm Robin Koval. It's great to meet you. I ordered a bran muffin, and it was huge, so I though we might share it. Of course, if you want your own muffin, or a different kind, I'll just save this for later.'

"It was business-partner love at first bite. Linda realized that this simple gesture revealed more about Robin than a resume or references could. She had shown herself to be proactive, frugal, collaborative and willing to take the initiative, even if the task was ordering breakfast. Within an hour, a partnership was taking root."

Those two ladies have gone on to create a powerhouse ad agency (they created the Aflac duck, for example), but it all started with a bran muffin, and a little bit of initiative.

Like never before, real people, average people, can take initiative. Seth Godin writes in Tribes, "In the old model things happened to you at work. Factories opened, people were hired. Bosses gave instructions. You got transferred. There were layoffs. You got promoted. Factories closed. Leaders, on the other hand, don't have things happen to them. They do things."

It used to be that people in the church waited for instructions from the pastor. In today's world, the ministry happens when and where people take initiative.

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