15 Insights From Catalyst Dallas

I’ve spent the last 3 days at the Catalyst Conference in Dallas. Catalyst is such a great event loaded with great leadership teaching, fantastic worship, inspiring stories from culture-shaping leaders, and hilarious creativity. This year’s theme was “Take Courage.” Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from the event:

1.   A single act of courage is often the tipping point for something extraordinary to happen – Pastor Andy Stanley shared this thought in the opening session and then described three faces of courage:

  • Courage to stay when it would be easier to go.
  • Courage to leave when it would be easier to stay.
  • Courage to ask for help, when it would be easier to pretend that everything is okay.

Stanley observed that you never know what hangs in the balance when God says to stay while others say to go or when God says to go when it would be easier to stay. He said the only thing we should fear is waking up one day and being outside of God’s will.

2.  Our response to fear is either to seek to be safer or seek to be braver – Gary Haugen from the International Justice Mission made this observation and then observed that we want to know with certainty the path to take, how much it will cost, and be assured that it will be successful. Haugen says, “You can experience your power safely or God’s power dangerously.”

3. Creative Idea + Organization & Execution + Community Forces + Leadership Capability = Making Ideas Happen – Scott Belsky, CEO of Behance, shared this formula as a process to turn great ideas into reality.

4. We are living somebody else’s to do list. Don’t surrender to reactionary workflow – This was another great insight by Scott Belsky. He observed that most leaders live in reactionary mode and abandon the essential practice of finding quiet spaces to think and reflect. This practice helps us be proactive.

5.  You can’t equate the blessed life with the safe life. The purpose of life is not to arrive at death safely – Christine Caine, founder of the A21 Campaign, shared this principle as she championed the cause of justice.  Christine works relentless to see slaves freed.

6. Compassion is never compassion until you roll up your sleeves, cross the street, and show compassion – Another great insight from Christine Caine.

7.  Joseph’s power was not about being powerful. It was about saving lives – This quote from Donald Miller as he shared about the life of Joseph was a great reminder of the purpose of leadership, power, and influence.

8. If you’re not dead, you’re not done – These are Craig Groeschel’s words of encouragement to the older generation followed by a challenge to invest in young leaders by delegating responsibility, not just tasks.

9. You can’t speed up maturity…it takes time – Craig made this challenge to the younger generation, reminding them of the importance of maturity and faithfulness.

10. You overestimate what God wants to do in the short run and grossly underestimate what God wants to do in the long run – This was another challenge Craig Groeschel made to the younger generation.

11. If you want to be over, learn to be under with integrity – This was Groeschel’s challenge to the young generation. He also reminded the audience of Andy Stanley’s words to leaders serving under a senior leader: “Honor publicly results in influence privately.” By honoring your leader publicly, you’ll gain influence with them in one-on-one meetings.

12. Admit your failures – Although this sounds like an obvious lesson, Scott Harrison, CEO of Charity: Water, used it to powerfully illustrate the value of transparency in leadership. Scott gave an example of drilling for water and the effort failing. They posted the video to their donors and didn’t try to candy coat the failure (even though 95% of the time they are successful). This transparency has only deepened respect from donors for the organization.

13. Do you teach your people that sin is an external activity or a state of the heart? Do you train people to attack the root or the branches? – These were questions Pastor Matt Chandler posed followed by the challenge that, “Most people don’t deal violently with sin.”

14. Your fully exploited strengths are of far greater value to your organization than your marginally improved weaknesses – Pastor Andy Stanley shared these words in his closing session. Some of his ideas included:

  • The less you do, the more you accomplish
  • The less you do, the more you enable others to accomplish
  • Only do what only you can do
  • Great achievers are not well-rounded. They are men and women who play to their strengths and delegate their weaknesses. Don’t focus on being well-rounded; focus on developing a well-rounded organization.
  • Your weakness is somebody else’s opportunity
  • Stress is often related to WHAT you are doing not HOW MUCH you are doing. Your sweet spot gives you energy.

15.  Get in the habit of saying to your team, “I’ll let you decide that.” This is the greatest way to develop leaders – Andy Stanley noted that when the organization’s key leader makes all the decisions, they become the bottleneck to leadership development.

Those are my 15 insights gleaned from this year’s Catalyst Conference in Dallas.

Question: What insights could you add to the lessons above? If you attended Catalyst, what lessons would you add?