Favorite New Things

Join me at Rethink Leadership on April 26-27 in Atlanta

For the last 20 years I've been involved with events and conferences. Putting them on, producing them, attending, creating, and ultimately being impacted by them.

One of the things about conferences that is incredibly helpful, but hard to create is a peer to peer learning environment. An environment where the experts are not just on the stage, but actually in the seats next to you and at the tables around you. 

That's one of the many reasons I'm excited about Rethink Leadership, a gathering for senior pastors, lead pastors, and executive pastors happening next month in Atlanta on April 26-28. 

I'm helping curate this event along with Carey Nieuwhof and Reggie Joiner, and if you're in a leadership position in the local church or a non profit, this gathering is for you and you're invited! 

If you haven't registered for Rethink Leadership yet, please do so now!

TODAY, Thursday, March 16, is the last day you can get early bird pricing, but your registration also gets you into a pre-event reception Tuesday night.

Then over the next two days, you'll get a chance to interact not only with 600 other leaders from across the US and the around the world, but with world class leaders like Bob Goff, Reggie Joiner, Jon Acuff, Les McKeown, Jeff Henderson, Kara Powell, Dan Reiland, Geoff Surratt, Danielle Strickland, Carlos Whittaker, Clay Scroggins and more. We'll have main stage sessions, but also affinity conversations where the crowds are smaller and your questions get answered. 

So if you haven't locked down your spot at Rethink Leadership yet, do so NOW!

Look forward to seeing you in Atlanta next month!

The Unreasonable Power of Discipleship and Community- guest post from Rich Birch

Here's a guest post from Rich Birch, the author of a new book entitled Unreasonable Churches. If you don't know Rich, he's been involved in church leadership for over 20 years. He also blogs and podcasts weekly at UnSeminary.com

How Pursuing Discipleship Created an Unreasonable Church that’s Reaching Disney Employees

Journalist Shane Snow surveyed 3,000 people with this question: “Who would you trust more as your leader? J.K. Rowling or Queen Elizabeth?” The vast majority would rather follow the storyteller than the world leader. The famous proverb reveals why: “Those who tell the stories rule the world.” This saying, attributed to Plato and to native Americans, describes why the most established story-telling juggernaut in the world, the Disney Corporation, continues to cause parents everywhere to hear “Let It Go” 35 times a day.

Stories are ultimately about people, with all the trials and victories that people blunder through. The storytellers themselves immerse their lives into their stories; just like the characters of their stories, they wander down life’s unknown paths with doubts and fears. Who will reach these storytellers with the greatest Story of all? Only an unreasonable church!

A New Testament Church

Cast Member Church—one church with three locations in Orlando, FL and Anaheim and Burbank, CA—is one of the most unique churches in North America. Steven Barr launched and pastors the church along with leaders at all three locations throughout the week. The focus and vision of Cast Member Church is to bring a Kingdom influence to every corner of The Walt Disney Company—the largest media company in the world. The Walt Disney Company employs over 100,000 people in all of its facilities, and the majority of the Cast Members do not attend church anywhere, nor are they Christians.

Cast Member Church gets its name from the title which the Disney Company gives to its employees. No matter what job they have at the parks and resorts, the workers are all called “cast members.” Every employee has a role to play.

Pastor Steven had worked as a cast member for a season, and during that time, he thought, “It would be great if there was a church just for cast members.” He had forgotten about this thought, but it came back to lead him to this one-of-a-kind ministry. Pastor Steven set out to reach cast members with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but he certainly had some obstacles ahead of him.

As he began efforts to establish the Cast Member Church, Pastor Steven spent several weeks meeting with church leaders in Orlando. He was trying to figure out what had worked and what had not worked from established churches trying to reach out to the employees at Disney. All he heard was horror stories of churches trying and failing. This group of people was so diverse and different. He quickly found that a typical church model was not going to work.

In prayer, he decided to go back to the Bible to figure out what kind of ministry he should do to reach out the cast members at Disney World. He asked the question, “How did it work in the New Testament?” He studied the book of Acts and how the Lord grew the infant church. As he studied the Scriptures, he recalled what author Mike Breen said, “If you plant churches, you might get disciples, but if you make disciples, you always get the church.”[1]

A Micro-Church of Disciples

So, to birth the unique Cast Member Church, Pastor Steven did it the old fashioned way. Trusting the truth of Scripture, his plan was to make disciples instead of planting a church for the cast members. He began this effort of unreasonable discipleship believing that as he made disciples, God would take care of the church. Pastor Steven began to gather a group of young cast members whom he taught, mentored, and discipled. These disciples, in turn, began to gather a group of people around themselves whom they also discipled. They named this network of groups, CommuniDs (D for Disney, or also for Discipleship).

To continue the growth of the Cast Member Church, Pastor Steven began to enter the parks as a guest on an annual pass (Disney doesn’t pay him, and he is not endorsed by Disney World). He connected with cast members at the Disney parks and hotels, as a paying guest, and engaged them in conversation. As cast members showed interest in the unique ministry, Pastor Steven invited them to the CommuniD groups.

The CommuniDs are “micro churches” of four or five cast members that meet at all kinds of times and places, mostly in hotels where the cast members can find a small quiet space. Some of them meet online. The CommuniD also functions as a family element, providing a secure relationship in which it’s safe to share questions and doubts. Once a month, all the CommuniDs come together for a time of extended worship, prayer, and fellowship. Pastor Steven is constantly working to grow the network and expand the reach of the micro-church concept.

Every new group is introduced to Life Beyond Imagination, which Pastor Steven developed. Life Beyond Imagination is a process which provides a way to share about Jesus without having the conversation shut down before the gospel even comes up. Pastor Steven discovered early on that if he told cast members that he was a pastor, or talked about Jesus, then the conversation quickly ended. But alternatively, he found that cast members were very interested in talking about their purpose, and Life Beyond Imagination uses that route to introduce the gospel.

The series of conversations use “Disney speak” to talk about finding their purpose in ways that the cast members relate to, using words such as “dream,” “quest,” and “story” to help them understand the significance of God’s Word and His gospel in their lives. Cast members at Disney World often have these questions floating around in their heads: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” “What does it even matter?” These issues open up the opportunity to share their purpose in Christ. In the process of introducing Christ, the lessons teach that each cast member has a purpose, but they have been separated from the One that gave them purpose. At their micro-church meetings, group leaders work with their CommuniD groups through this process of understanding their purpose in life and how the gospel of Jesus Christ relates to them.

To read more about Cast Member Church and stories of other UNREASONABLE CHURCHES, visit http://www.UnreasonableChurches.com


Rich Birch has been involved in church leadership for over 20 years. Early on he had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,500 people in 6 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, as well as on the Lead Team at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing communities of New Jersey.

Rich speaks at conferences like Orange, WFX and various regional multisite church events. He's a featured writer on Auxano’s Vision Room, ChurchLeaders.com and MinistryBriefing. He's honored to blog and podcast weekly at unSeminary.com

Rich is married to Christine and together they parent two wonderful teens, Haley and Hunter. Collectively they try to keep their dog, Rory, from chewing everything that lands on the floor.

An Interview with Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy about their new book Living Forward

Co-Authors of Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want

Q. Michael and Daniel, you two have co-authored Living Forward, a book that explains the need for and outlines creation of what you call a Life Plan. So, first things first: What is a Life Plan?

A. Michael: A Life Plan is a brief document that you write yourself. In it, you establish your personal priorities, and you articulate the steps you need to take in order to get from where you currently are to where you want to be. It’s a living document that gives you a 30,000-foot view of your life––this is something you’ll return to again and again throughout your life to tweak and adjust. But one thing that won’t change is its main purpose. A Life Plan acts as a filter that helps you to acknowledge your priorities and keep them at the forefront of your mind, where they need to be, both in order to achieve progress and to maintain what you already have and cherish.

Daniel: When we say Life Plan, we’re talking about a specific type of document, derived from a specific process. In Living Forward, we carefully outline that process, and what the document you’ll end up with will be like. We discuss it from every angle, from how long it is––usually eight to 15 pages––to the schedule you should follow and questions you should ask yourself in order to get the best Life Plan you can.


Q. Daniel, you are the one who first introduced Michael to Life Planning, correct?

A. Daniel: Yes, when Michael and I began working together in the early 2000s, he was one of the publishers at Thomas Nelson, and then, while I was his executive coach, he was promoted to CEO of the company. 

My company is called Building Champions, and the Life Plan is a part of the coaching model that we bring to all of our clients, most of whom are leaders in business. We help men and women improve how they lead their organizations, and we believe that in order to do that, we need to start with helping them improve how they lead themselves. Self-leadership always precedes team leadership. How you lead yourself––your thinking, your beliefs, your interactions, your communication––that all plays into what kind of success you’ll have in all areas of your life.

After his experience with the Life Plan and introducing the concept to his own large audience, Michael pointed out that while Building Champions is well known in the corporate world, our coaching model and message could significantly help all people. At Building Champions, we’re working with leaders in corporate America, but the principles are applicable to everyone because everyone has a dynamic, multi-faceted life that could benefit from active intention and purpose. And that led to the book Living Forward.

Q. You address this idea of “drifting” in the book.

A. Michael: Yes. Nobody has 100% control of the outcomes of their life. But the opposite is not true either: You do not have to be like a cork on a turbulent sea, just drifting along with the tide. Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, there is owning your life––taking responsibility for this gift and saying, “You know, I really want to be a steward of everything I’ve been given.”

Daniel: Most people go through life investing the majority of their energy and time into two areas of their life. I like the analogy of accounts, which we use in the book, because it really resonates with people. The areas of your life are like accounts––life accounts. There is your professional account and your financial account, but then if you’re married, you also have a marriage account. Parents have a kids account. You get the idea.

When you talk to people––even people who are putting all of their intentional effort into their work account––most of them say that they want to have great marriages, good health, and strong families, and that they want to make a difference in their neighborhoods and communities.

They really want to do all of those things, but they don’t have a plan. So those areas often fall into the “leftover” category. Without an intentional plan, marriage, family, health, and everything else that they say they truly value just ends up with their leftovers––never their best. Life Planning helps you focus on all of those accounts and to understand the broader impact of success in all of those accounts. A Life Plan also helps you recognize which of those accounts have a deficit or are even bankrupt, and then to proactively create strategies to accumulate net worth in every account.

The accounts are all interconnected. If you’re struggling in your health or marriage account, it’s only a matter of time before the consequences of neglecting those accounts are going to impact other accounts, like work and kids.


Q. Part of the Life Planning process you walk readers through is designing a legacy. You instruct individuals to actual write their own eulogy. Why?

A. Daniel: Yes, I think this step in the process is the most difficult for a lot of people. We instruct you to write your eulogy as though it were going to be delivered today. Typically, that is going to expose some gaps between reality as it is and what you wish it were.

I want you to really envision you’re at the memorial service. Who is saying what? What is your spouse saying? What are your kids saying? What is your community saying?

You have got to give your all to this part of the plan. It’s near the beginning of the process, and so much hinges on you really digging in here and being honest with yourself. For some people, this exercise is beautiful and amazing. For others, it’s alarming and creates a bit of panic, because you realize the right people aren’t saying the right things.

But then, we immediately shift to saying, “You are still breathing. Your heart is still beating. You have an opportunity to live forward more proactively today, but you’ve got to invest the time.”

Michael: I also think the eulogy exercise is powerful because it forces us to acknowledge something our culture is desperate to keep us from acknowledging: our own mortality. We are all going to die.

This is kind of a reckoning with that. You don’t have a choice of whether or not you’re going to die, but you do have a choice about what you’re going to leave behind, and particularly, the memories you’re going to give to the people you love.

It’s a really emotional exercise for a lot of people. I’ve taught this in large group settings where people have wept and wailed and had to leave the room. Most people who’ve pushed through it say it’s the most profound thing they’ve ever done. It’s also very empowering. Once people get past the emotion of accepting mortality and realizing that people are perhaps not saying what they’d hope they’d say, they realize, “Wow. I could begin to change this today. I can create different memories with the people I love. I just need to be intentional.” A Life Plan helps them do that.


Q. Living Forward is a fast read, but it’s incredibly thorough––a real walkthrough of creating a Life Plan, step by step. One part of the process that you are very specific about is the amount of time needed to draft a Life Plan. Why is setting aside an entire day to write a Life Plan so important?

A. Michael: This is non-negotiable for me. You have to put a day into doing this. Do not try to do a piecemeal thing, like, “I’ll write part of my eulogy at 9 p.m. after I get the kids to bed, then tomorrow during my lunch break I’ll write one of my accounts out.” If you do that, this Life Plan won’t take. This is the plan for your life: It needs and is worth your focus.

The average American will spend five hours researching and shopping for a new car that they’ll drive for a few years. But they won’t spend five hours putting a plan together for their life. The average fiancée spends 39 days planning a three-hour event––her wedding––but she won’t spend a day planning how she is going to make her life and her marriage excellent.

A Hebrew scripture in Proverbs says, “The plans of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” There are plans in your heart. But you’ve got to dive deep and invest the time to pull them out. Invest one day. That’s a great start.

Daniel: We know from coaching hundreds of thousands of clients that that is how long this process takes. Some individuals may take five hours, some may take 10, but on average, it takes a full day.

I’ve tried to coach it other ways––to ask people to do the first part on a Sunday afternoon and then to tackle the next step the following Sunday. And it just doesn’t work. You’re diving deep in this process. If you break up the creation of the Life Plan over an extended period of time, you’re like a scuba diver going down deep who has to then keep coming to the surface before going back down again and again. That’s so hard to do. It’s so much more satisfying and frankly, a lot easier, to spend a full day completing the entire thing.


Q. What part of the Life Plan is the hardest for people, do you think?

A. Michael: I think the most difficult part of the process is giving yourself permission to take the time to plan your life. It’s a foreign concept to most people. I think the next most difficult part of the process is figuring out what you want. We ask specific questions, like what would optimal health look like for you? What do you want in your marriage? Do you want long-term friendship? Do you want a deeply passionate relationship with true intimacy rooted in deep and rich conversation? What do you want in your career? What do you want financially? What do you want for your kids?

I think getting clarity is a big reason why it takes an entire day. People have to dig deep and ask themselves hard questions. So often, people just assume the posture of a victim and don’t take responsibility for their lives. They let other people make decisions and then complain about what they don’t like.

It’s a completely different thing to decide to stop being a victim and to decide to be active and intentional.

Daniel: I’ve had debates with people about the idea of planning, like, by structuring your life you’re not going to leave room for the spontaneous or for the curve ball. But the plan that we put in Living Forward is not there for you to serve. It serves you. It is a dynamic tool, and you’re changing it all of the time. If a health issue arises, if one of your kids is struggling, or if your business takes a different direction, you’re going to sit down and adjust your Life Plan for that new reality.

Another potential pushback is people don’t want to write down a goal or a desire because then all of a sudden, it becomes a benchmark that they have to live up to. And they don’t want to fail. They think if they miss going on a date with their husband once a month, saving that money, or hitting the gym those three days a week, it’ll be really defeating.

To those folks, I say: All of the things you’re talking about doing are important to do. And this is not your report card. This is just encouragement to help you be mindful and clear about what matters most. You’ll be reviewing your Life Plan over and over, so the odds of you following through on these commitments are actually much greater. You’re going to win way more than you lose. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back.


Q. For people who are unsure, still hesitating to commit to creating a Life Plan even after reading Living Forward, what do you want to say?

A. Daniel: I think a lot of people have read and heard cute quotes like, “Nobody on their deathbed ever wished they worked another day.” And I think we all get it and agree. But then what? What do I do about it?

I think the concept of living forward is an excellent answer. In the book, we really tried to respond to these questions about life with step-by-step answers. We wanted to strip away any mystery these abstract ideas and quotes create about better lives. If you read the book, if you invest the day, and if you do the scheduled reviews and everything else we’ve outlined, you are going to have a better life.

Michael: What’s the worst that can happen? Let’s say you go through the whole exercise and you think, well, that was a total waste of time. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but let’s say it does. Well, you waste a day going to a football game where your team loses, you know? Is it really that big of a setback?

I think the real issue for people is that they fear change. They fear that if they get serious about a Life Plan, it’s going to mean that the status quo is no longer acceptable. So frankly, they just don’t want to deal with it, because change means something new, and new is often intimidating or frightening.

But things don’t generally accrue by ignoring them. When you look at the upside of giving a little attention to this and ending up at a destination you would choose in your health, your marriage, your career, your finances, and elsewhere, it’s such a small investment––a small price to pay for a really big outcome.

We just want to take the excuses away. If you’re overcommitted; if you’re distracted; if you’re successful but no necessarily in all areas of life (financially and in work, but not other areas); if you’ve recently experienced a tragedy and you’ve realized life is short- than a life plan is for you. We know firsthand the transformative power of doing this. A Life Plan will provide the clarity, courage and control to change your path. A Life Plan is a huge opportunity for every person, no matter who or where they are right now, to take back control of their life.

Thanks guys for the time! 

Check out more of what Michael is doing here, and Daniel here

About Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt is changing the way the world’s highest achievers focus, prioritize, and improve. The CEO and founder of Intentional Leadership, an online leadership development company, Hyatt is an in-demand speaker and the New York Times bestselling author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, as well as seven other books. Written with Daniel Harkavy, his highly anticipated new book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, will be published by Baker Books in March 2016. Hyatt shapes today’s thought-leading conversations about living with intention and clarity through his widely read blog, which he has maintained since 2004, and through his This is Your Life podcast, which consistently ranks among iTunes’ Top 10 Business Podcasts. A veteran key player in the publishing world, he served as Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers before launching Intentional Leadership. Married for almost 40 years to his wife Gail, Hyatt is a proud father of five daughters and lives just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

About Daniel Harkavy

Daniel Harkavy has spent the last 25 years helping leaders achieve more in business and in life. He founded elite coaching company Building Champions, Inc. two decades ago, where he now serves as CEO and Executive Coach. A trusted confidant and resource for Fortune 500s and other high-performing organizations, Harkavy and his team of coaches have built a current and past client roster that includes Chick-fil-A, Pfizer, Infineum (an ExxonMobil and Shell company), Bank of America, Wells Fargo, MetLife, PrimeLending, US Bank, Northwestern Mutual, Morgan Stanley, Daimler Trucks North America, Prudential, Merrill Lynch, and more. He is also the author of acclaimed manual Becoming a Coaching Leader: The Proven Strategy for Building Your Own Team of Champions. Written with Michael Hyatt, his highly anticipated new book Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, will be published by Baker Books in March 2016. An avid surfer and snowboarder, Harkavy lives with his wife and family in West Linn, Oregon.

6 Simple Ways to Grow as a Leader

Leadership can be overwhelming, especially in regards to the daunting task of "continual growth as a leader." 

So here are 6 Simple Ways to Grow in your Leadership:

1. Read- Leaders are readers, pure and simple. I recommend business books, Christian living, historical biographies/autobiographies, and magazines. And of course the Bible as your #1 source. I've written several blog posts over the last couple of years that list out some of the most important books I've read. 

2. Serve- Jump in and help wherever needed. Ultimately, just keep leading, more and more and more. Action and repetition leads to growth and wisdom. The more you lead, the better leader you will be. And believe me, if you keep asking to take on leadership in your organization, you will continue to have more responsibility piled on you.

3. Watch- Learn from those around you, especially those who are more experienced, wiser, and have something to offer. Find a few leaders who you want to learn from, and seek them out. Ask them for advice.

4. Listen- Never before has so much content and conversations been available to us to glean from. Podcasts are now my "go to" for sitting in on conversations with leaders I admire and want to learn from. 

5. Pray- The prayers of a righteous man/women accomplish much. Pray for wisdom, pray for favor, opportunities, connections, new platforms, and also pray that your influence will be expanded. And pray for humility.

6. Connect- Hang around other leaders. Go where other leaders are. Catalyst, Leadership Summit, Leadercast, Hillsong Conference, etc. Local gatherings. Small roundtables. Large conferences. Lunches. Receptions. Whatever. Osmosis really does work when it comes to growing as a leader. And getting outside of your "norm" is essential to growth- many times just hearing how another leader is handling a situation will bring great clarity and perspective.

Are you a Senior Pastor or Leader? Then this is for You!

So I'm helping launch a brand NEW leadership gathering designed exclusively for lead pastors and senior leaders of organizations. 

If that's you, make plans now to join us for ReThink Leadership on April 27-29, 2016 in Atlanta. 

As a senior leader in the local church, you need and want to hear from leaders who are not just the experts, but are truly leading and considered "peers" you can learn from. 

ReThink Leadership is all about experiencing content, conversations and connections you'll be hard pressed to get anywhere else! 

We'll deliver new content from world-class leaders, peers who are wrestling with the same things you are, and hosts who will make the entire experience personal and practical. 

Featuring TED style talks and interviews with world class leaders including Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, Pete Wilson, Cheryl Bachelder, Leonce Crump, Jon Acuff, Kara Powell, Jeff Henderson, Carey Nieuwhof and more. 

You'll also experience: 

- an intimate setting and limited attendance with top thinkers. Registration is capped. 

- access to some of today's top leaders in a room full of other senior leaders who share their passion for the mission of the Church. Registration is open exclusively to senior leaders and pastors, campus pastors and lead pastors. 

- table hosts and facilitators that will help guide you through your time together and some pivotal discussions on important topics. 

- practical strategies with how to tackle the problems you face, day in and day out as a leader. 

- full access to the Friday, April 29th sessions at Orange Conference are included. This should create great discussion between you and your team. 

Please make plans NOW to join us in Atlanta April 27–29, 2016. This unique gathering will be held at the John C Maxwell Leadership Center at 12 Stone Church, just minutes from Infinite Energy Arena (previously Gwinnett Arena). 

And register by tomorrow, Thursday, February 18th to save $40 off the regular pricing! 

Look forward to seeing you there!