Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Kaleidoscope of Success

Written by: on November 7, 2019

When my muscles get tired from playing soccer I can almost hear them telling me to STOP working out so hard! But, it’s then that I am probably getting stronger. When my fingers are stretching too far to reach the c#add-9 chord, I can almost hear them telling me STOP reaching so far. But, as a growing guitarist, I need to stretch and go directions that are out of my reach to get to a better place. When I feel like I want to tell myself to STOP reading it is probably then that I am going to be learning the most.

Shane Parrish’s work The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts presents to me such a construct: reaching into new directions that others taught me to go to reach new heights in my pursuits for different life rhythms. These three frames are life-giving demands the adding disciplines that I didn’t conjure up on my own.

Mr. Parrish probably learned more deeply that learning from others gave him a greater purview of opportunities to succeed. It’s like seeing new visions through a kaleidoscope. Parrish wrote, “the person with the fewest blind spots wins. Removing blind spots means we see, interact with, and move closer to understanding reality.”[1] We need others to succeed.

My research is aimed to support the bi-vocational pastor. That vocational calling means that this pastor will need to partner with other persons or agencies because no one person or agency contains every aspect to reach different levels of success. From my experience, the challenge for young leaders (not necessarily by age) and entrepreneurs will be less likely to listen and receive from others until they hit the wall so to speak.

We all have deficits and we ought to be glad about that fact. I know that’s odd to say. However, if we are to be part of the solution for the sake of others it is wise to consider what our part or parts might be and what others can bring.

In my vocational world, if the pastor is to seek the welfare of their neighborhood then a kaleidoscope or network of skill sets will have to be part of the strategy because ministry is not that simple anymore.[2] For example, The Wall Street Journal notes that “RURAL AMERICA IS THE NEW ‘INNER CITY.’ A Wall Street Journal analysis shows that since the 1990s, sparsely populated counties have replaced large cities as America’s most troubled areas by key measures of socioeconomic well-being—a decline that’s accelerating.”[3] This is where the village and urban pastor collide to create a more meaningful and successful ministry experience.

By the way, I probably think better in Parrish’s first principles, thought experiment, inversion, and need to grow in the Hanlon’s Razor categories.

            [1] Shane Parrish, “The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts,” (Kindle location: 98), Kindle Edition.

            [2] Jeremiah 29:7.

            [3] Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg, “Rural America Is the New ‘Inner City,’” The Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2017,  https://www.wsj.com/articles/rural-america-is-the-new-inner-city-1495817008, (accessed November 7, 2019).


About the Author

Steve Wingate

10 responses to “The Kaleidoscope of Success”

  1. John McLarty says:

    If your assumption that new leaders and entrepreneurs are more likely to reach out for help only after hitting a wall, how might you structure your project to be the thing they reach for to keep them going? How might the tools of the mental models help shape some of what you offer to encourage them?

    • Steve Wingate says:

      Yes, that is my assumption (at least in large part). But, that is very good insight to help build into my tone, tools, or speech (questioning with optimism) could be part of the answer, but I’m definitely going to build that into my research. Thanks so much John.

  2. Shawn Cramer says:

    I like your parallels between stretching your fingers and mental elasticity. I also like your call for urban and rural pastors to learn from one another. Tim Keller said that a previous generation overly feared the urban centers, while a current generation overly romanticizes the city. Urban and rural have been pitted against one another, and I agree that there needs to be overlap. That’s encouraging because a lot of innovation is simply taking an idea that worked in one context or field, and reinventing it to work in a different context or field.

    • Steve Wingate says:

      Yes, the overlap or merging by partial means of gentrification and economics is pushing the urban we know of out into the rural we think we know of. I can’t even find “a” pure US government definition of rural. So, I’m wondering if it possible that rural means what one thinks abou their situation vs a pure definition.

  3. Greg Reich says:

    You stated: Parrish wrote, “the person with the fewest blind spots wins. Removing blind spots means we see, interact with, and move closer to understanding reality.” I am not sure we truly eliminate blind spots. Some of them we are born with and some we choose. I was born a middle class white american male. I didn’t choose this it is just a fact of life. I will always see life through this lens. But I also realize the benefits it has provided as well as, the blind spot it creates. The fact is I always have a choice to whether I let this blind spot dictate how and what I see. By knowing our propensity toward certain blind spots we can ask the tough questions that can get us beyond them. They may still exist we just aren’t manipulated by them because we have built an avenue around them. Even with the mental models I am not sure that alone any of us can truly see reality for what it is. How vital to understanding reality is a team of peers and a community of people?

    • Steve Wingate says:

      I think, I think I see what you are saying about blind spots! I discovered one today! I drove my mom around our home town showing her where we used to live and some landmarks I just knew she would remember- not! Dementia is a mean ruler. The blind spot I had was my not being able to slow down to her world. It was frustrating to see this happen to her but also frustrating for me- I had to adjust and I didn’t want to, as much as I love her.

  4. Dylan Branson says:

    “From my experience, the challenge for young leaders (not necessarily by age) and entrepreneurs will be less likely to listen and receive from others until they hit the wall so to speak.”

    I think we often find that our growth comes strongest when we’ve reached our limits and, in humility, seek others when we don’t know where to go next. Granted, I don’t think leaders should traverse the channels of leadership alone, but sometimes we have to make our mistakes to learn from them. We all need our moments of humility when we realize, “Guess I didn’t know it all after all.” The question is how others with more experience, and who have traversed that path, will reach out to them to guide them through the tension that discombobulation brings.

    • Steve Wingate says:

      There is a saying, attributed to Buddha the Theosophists, if I have that right. It goes that, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. … A teacher can ease the way – and facilitate learning, but like you say, but the learner has to walk the path!

      That should probably be a point in my research about how we learn.

      Good point Dylan

  5. Chris Pollock says:

    Blind Spots have stumbled me up at times! Appreciate your post Steve and your perspective on things. Over the last day or so I have been reflecting on something that I suppose was somewhat of a blindspot, perhaps one that reveals lack in my circle of competence. I have a lot of growing up to do still and seeing things clearly. Day-by-day life is opening up little-by-little.

    My NPO was a bit off in comparison with that of my Stakeholders. Not only the NPO, but the audience I thought we could focus on. While my attention centred on an area of ministry wherein I experienced a problem, it wasn’t the same for my stakeholders. They interpreted the NPO put forward in a different way which led us into a conversation regarding a problem that concerns all of our hearts.

    Is it possible that this reflects a blind spot miss or that my circle of competence is simply being educated and experience some growth through the Discovery Session and deeper connection with Stakeholders?

    Thankful to have had the chance to learn and find our corporate direction with the NPO. Still a ways to go from here!

    • Steve Wingate says:

      Yes! Am I ready for a different answer? I’ve considered myself a person with a unique talent to listen- or with a good volume of sensate ability, which is derived from the word sensus. The sensus would mean that I must be ready for a different answer, while I am so tempted to have a solution before listening well and long to a variety of voices.

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