loren Eric Swanson: Living with one foot raised

Friday, June 17, 2005

Living with one foot raised

Last night (between part A and part B of my pastor's birthday gathering) I went up to Fort Collins to speak to the new staff of Campus Crusade--a great group of young people entering the prime of their lives. One thing that I mentioned in passing is a book I'm reading called, "Heroic Leadership--Best Practices of a 450 Year-old Company that Changed the World." It is the story of the Jesuit. Author Chris Lowney writes,

Leaders make themselves and others comfortable in a changing world. They eagerly explore new ideas, approaches, and cultures rathern than shrink defensively from what lurks around life's next corner. Anchored by nonnegotiable principles and values, they cultivate the "indifference" that allows them to adapt confidently. Loyola [founder of Jesuit order] described the ideal Jesuit as "living with one foot raised"--always ready to respond to emerging opportunities....They were quick, flexible, open to new ideas. The same set of tools and practices that fostered self-awareness, Loyola's spiritual exercises, also instilled "indifference," freedom from attachments to places and possessions, which could result in inappropriate resistance to movement or change. The "living with one foot raised" message was reinforced constantly: Loyola' chief lieutennt barnstromed Europe reminding Jesuits that for men open to new and ever changing missions, " the whole world will become [their] house." He meant it literally, urging them to speed, mobility, and rapid response. But he was also describing a mindset for each Jesuit to cultivate.

A couple month ago, I read a short book called Impro--a seminal book on improvisational comedy. The way improv works is by "never refusing a suggestion." There was a salient quote that I will close with that captures the spirit of "living with one foot raised"--"There are people who are inclined to say "yes" and there are people who are inclined to say "no." Those who say "yes" are rewarded with the adventures that they have, while those who say "no" are rewarded with the safety they desire. There are far more no-sayers around than yes-sayers"

The challenge to new staff of Crusade and to 50-year-olds is to live life with one foot raised and saying "yes" to what God has for us. Think of the adventures we will have.....


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