Fight for Philosophies, Not Ideas

Note: This is a repost from Jonathan Malm. When I read it, I thought “Man, I couldn’t have written this better myself.” And so I didn’t try. It was as if the guy read my mind and my M.O.. You can read the original post here, and do yourself a favor – go subscribe to his posts, they’re good.

I’m a scrapper when it comes to meetings. I love fighting for my ideas. But last Monday, as I was arguing emphatically for an idea, I kept getting shut down. It was a somewhat complex, but brilliant idea. But people kept getting hung up on details. I felt like my ideas were losing an intergalactic space fight – getting shot down left and right. What was going wrong here?

I realized I was fighting for my idea instead of the philosophy behind my idea. I was fighting over implementation instead of what I was trying to accomplish. My implementation was getting in the way of what I was trying to accomplish. Let me explain more concretely with what I was fighting for:

We have three Sunday morning services. The middle is super full and the first and third have ample space. Easter’s coming up – the busiest day of the year. We either have to turn people away or come up with a creative idea to accomodate them.

My idea: tickets to the services. Announce to our congregation that we’re offering tickets to the services. We make tons of first and third service tickets and very few middle service tickets. We explain that this is a guarantee that they’ll have a seat if they get a ticket. Of course we wouldn’t be rigid by requiring them to bring their tickets and we’d have tons of room for unexpected guests. But the idea was to help spread out the load between the three services.

People hated the idea. “Tickets don’t match our church’s culture.” “I’ve had bad experience with services that require tickets.” Many reasons why we shouldn’t use tickets. All hope was lost.

Until I realized tickets were just one way to accomplish my philosophy. The idea was to tell people they were guaranteed a seat if they came to the first and third service. Why not just tell them that?

Perhaps it wasn’t a great idea. But it was a great philosophy.

I spent a bunch of time arguing for my idea when I could have explained my philosophy and come to a great idea much sooner.

Don’t be so married to your ideas. But be willing to fight for a good philosophy.

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