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To see people change, get very specific

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I posted a quote on Facebook a moment ago from one of my all time favorite books: Influencer. Someone responded, asking me where I found the book. I said I thought I found it at Barnes and Noble. "Oh, you have the hardcover as well?" (I posted the quote from my Kindle.) "Yeah, I think I have the audio as well; I really like this book!" Anyone who cares about influencing people ought to read and reread this book.

One of the foundational tenants of Influencer is this: if you want to influence people, you have to get really clear about what you want them to do. It is not enough to say we want people to be good or be godly or Christ like. We have to say we want them to read their Bibles every day. (I so resonant with this idea because it is central to my own thoughts in Disciplemaking Teachers.)

Too much teaching is way to vague. I listen to sermons all the time and think, "What exactly do you want me to do?" We need to get real clear about this. As Howard Hendricks used to say, "If there is a mist in the pulpit, there is a fog in the pew." If there is the least bit of lack of clarity on the part of the speaker, there is absolute confusion with the listeners.

I am not sure where I heard this: I ought be be able to stop you before you walk into class to teach and ask you, "What are you going to teach today?" and you ought to be able to answer in one crisp sentence. If you are really teaching well, I could ask your students as they walk out, "What did you learn today?" and they could give the same sentence. (I have sometimes given myself an even more difficult test and asked a kid what I preached about that day. If you are communicating well, the kid can tell you.

Back to Influencer. The authors tell a great story of how getting very specific saved lives:

To reduce the senseless loss of lives, the team found a way to encourage YMCA lifeguards to alter how they performed their job. Now that’s no easy challenge because it requires the ability to exert influence over hundreds of teenage employees across the organization. However, when it came to guarding, the team discovered that one vital behavior—something they called “10/10 scanning”—was a key to saving lives. By using a few of the principles we cover in this book, they were able to zero in on and change a key behavior.

It turns out that traditional lifeguards spend much of their time greeting members, adjusting swim lanes, picking up kick-boards, or testing pool chemicals. However, when lifeguards stand in a specific spot and scan their section of the pool every 10 seconds and then offer assistance to anyone in trouble within 10 seconds, drowning rates drop by two-thirds. To date, scores of communities have been spared the devastating loss of a life because a handful of clever influencers looked for a way to change behavior rather than accepting the existing reality. --Influencer : The Power to Change Anything (Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny)

As you prepare your lesson this week, think about this question: what exactly do I want people to do about what they heard today.

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