Why Every Church Leader Should Take a Think Week (and what I learned on mine)
Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, has had a pattern to his life. He calls it his "think week".
Twice a year he'd go to a remote cabin for a week to, you guessed it... think. He'd step away from the busy day-to-day responsibilities, demands, and task lists in order to zoom out, look at the big picture, and ensure all those responsibilities, demands, and task lists were actually pointed the right direction.
In fact, famously one of those think week's in 1995 led him to steer Microsoft into the then-budding internet and create an internet browser (Internet Explorer) that would defeat their competitor (Netscape).
As the idea of a think week swirled around my head, I began thinking that it would be an excellent exercise for me to take one. While there was no giant topic that I felt I needed a retreat to tackle, I recognized that I needed to ensure all of the day-to-day tasks in my life were pointed the right direction.
Both professionally at Breeze and personally with my family.
If you're anything like me, you can relate to the idea of every day feeling like there's a giant task list to accomplish. You're an achiever and you want to see checkboxes in all of those boxes.
The danger in this is that if those tasks aren't taking us toward where we want to get to, it can be a lot of wasted energy.
In fact I believe the busier we are and the more tasks we have, the more critical a think week is.
So I started talking to my gracious, beautiful, supportive wife (did I mention supportive?). We have three small children at home and so the idea of taking a full week away probably wasn't going to be the best route.
We landed on me taking 3 days (and 2 nights). A "mini think week" if you will.
There's a little beach town about half an hour away on the shores of Lake Michigan. After looking at vacation rental homes and hotels, I landed on a bed and breakfast that was fairly equally priced and included a great place to work from and delicious breakfasts.
Before I left, I started collecting ideas of what I wanted to focus on. These ranged from professional goals like "what themes should Breeze focus on over the next 6 to 12 months?" to more personal goals like "what family habits/routines would I like to start?".
I use an online list-making tool called Trello for inputting and organizing these lists. It makes it easy to add ideas when they come to mind. Trello isn't the only one in this space though - Evernote, MS Word... I even hear pen and paper can accomplish the task.
When the morning came for my think week, I drove to the town and went straight to a coffee shop. I'm one of those strange people who don't actually like coffee but I enjoy the smell - so I ordered my chai tea and sat down.
I took out the ideas I was collecting and began categorizing them into topics. I then wrote each topic on a notecard and laid them out on the table.
Following this, on the back of each card I wrote down all of the topics related to that idea that I might possibly want to research. Finally, I went through all of those topics and put a star next to the ideas that were highest priority for me.
That left me with 9 topics. Nine topics that formed the framework of what I would spend the following couple days thinking about and researching.
LIST 9 TOPICS HERE
10) Used that to think through everything
11) Wrote down takeaways
12) Things that went well
13) Things I'd like to improve for next time
14) Encouragement for church leaders to do this - you can't afford to be pointed the wrong direction
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