If you look at the music industry, you will find many examples of artists who created cultural shifts that transcend time, nuance and location. If I say the word Beatles what comes to mind? Floppy hair, rock and roll, and simplicity. What about The Rolling Stones? Pushing the envelope, smash-mouth musicianship and longevity.
There are many other examples of cultural innovators such as these. The challenge we all have as emerging leaders (parents, pastors or others) is being a part of the creation of culture for a specific context, setting and time. Here are three things I'm learning about creating culture:
1. Be honest. When you look in the mirror, don't hide from the things you don't want to see and create things that simply aren't there. Be honest about where you are at and where you want to be. Its' only out of moments of authenticity that true, deep-seeded change and creation of culture can take place.
2. What do you need? In addition to a realistic perception of current reality, you need to have the courage to articulate what you need both in the present and the future. As a leader, I have to be honest about what type of feedback and encouragement I might crave, in addition to what growth and development I long to see. If I don't know what I want or what I need, how can I expect someone else to? Be real, be firm and be willing to enter into the journey of discovering what it is you really need.
3. It's gotta be personal. If the culture you are looking to create isn't something you are willing to embrace yourself, there is NO WAY you will be successful in your creative initiative. Be what you want. You can't inspire change unless you are communicating from a deep level of personal affinity, passion and growth.
Creating culture takes time. If you aren't willing to see it begin to develop over the long haul, perhaps you should re-examine your desire to be a part of a cultural shift. We all want to be known and remembered for something. What does your culture creating strategy say about who you are as a leader, what you want to be known for and what is important to you?
My hope and prayer is that those who affected by the creative cultural initiatives I champion might be inspired by the grace, mercy and love of Christ that permeates to one's very core.
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