Something to Say: Reflections from Rob Bell’s communication workshop

Oh, my friends! I got an opportunity to spend two days with Rob Bell at his Something to Say workshop in Los Angeles this week. It was fantastic! Met new friends, took notes, got inspired.

To aid in my own learning and maybe yours, I’m sharing the highlights. You fully alive in your leadership and presence in the world makes a better world for us all. So maybe a word or question below will inspire you into your next step. Enjoy!

We’re all students. It takes great pain to learn. 

Communication Practices

  • What saved me that may also save my listeners?
  • Telling a story about you to illustrate a point? The more details you offer about your experience, the more it’s about all of us. The particular becomes universal.
  • Listeners see a speaker as an empowered person. The more we can tap into how we’re actually just getting started, the more they can relate to us, even though we’re in different places.
  • Can we create spaces that are so counter-cultural that our presence inspires people to counter-cultural movement?
  • What makes it safe for listeners to question assumptions?
  • Listeners hold tons of reasons not to listen to you. Name them. Help them hold those.
  • Let’s set our listeners free from grasping content on the first listen. It needs to be repeated.
  • Question when you’re trying to do too much in a message. Instead of trying to get some people to buy in, fly at a higher level and get longer range buy in.
  • We need people who’ve made peace with the big issue and they have a few ideas about how to move forward.
  • I can’t relate to my own loss until I hear the loss of the speaker.
  • When listeners are overwhelmed or frustrated by your content, remember you’ve likely been sitting with this for much longer. 
  • Some conversations aren’t meant for microphones and stages.
  • The great comedians aren’t trying to make you laugh. They just love what they’re doing. They tell stories in a way they enjoy so we want to laugh along. If we have to keep telling everyone how to do X, then the system has broken down.
I even got a 20 minute coaching session in the hot seat! Incredible experience.

Leadership Reflections

  • Someone benefits from a broken system until someone cares enough to be loud and confident enough to take on the system.
  • We’ve learned not to trust what’s inside of us. We’ve been marinating for 1500 years in Western culture that tell us not to trust ourselves. But the divine image says whatever is in us is good. And we have millions of people who’ve never learned to listen to the quiet voice inside them that says they’re dying and there’s got to be a new way. The truth has been shouting the whole time. But our deep cynicism covers it up. 
  • Structure submits to Spirit. Our structures support the greater spirit of what we’re trying to do. 
  • Yes, there are lot of things you could do. But your fullness present in one or two things is going to have far greater resonance and power instead of you at 74% in ten different things. There’s fantasy in what all the things could be. But to actually bring one into existence, then I have to give myself to ONE thing.
  • Sometimes we get so comfortable with a topic that we talk about it easily and forget that it’s disruptive and revolutionary and threatening for our listeners. Your calm, peace and serenity in leading and speaking is really important then. You know who you are, what you’re doing and you’re nowhere else. Then you can hold space for people to feel safe to engage.
  • There’s a passing of the you who can’t get it all. You’ve come too far to shrink into that. At some level, it’s a loss of tribe. There’s a funeral. “I wish I fit. The system rewarded me. The ladders were clear.” It’d be easier. But there’s a fire in you. And you want it to fit in this little space that feels safe. 
  • It’s not your intent to burn things down. Your intent is to set people free. Are you okay with the fullness of you unleashed in the world perhaps burning a few things down? You have a big gift and everyone might not be cool with it.
  • There’s a difference between confrontation and exposure. Some things you’ll do will expose people and they’ll feel it’s confrontational. Remind yourself that it’s the conversation that’s frustrating, not necessarily you. “That’s not ours to carry.”
  • Routines work both ways. They’re hard to establish and they’re hard to break out of.
  • Drop a few plates. Let some things go undone. 
  • Energy spent trying to figure out a broken system is energy wasted doing the thing you’re here to do.
  • When your battery is fully charged, it’s a lot easier to see what’s for you and not for you.
Workshop is open to about 35 participants. Makes for powerful connections with each other.

Creative Process

  • You have a gift to give the world. Problem is that it might not look like what anyone else does. It doesn’t have an authority figure telling you daily to what to do. We get stuck wanting permission. 
  • The thing you want to do in the world? It might be too sacred and holy to put paycheck weight on it.
  • “Let’s set you free from…” He said this countless times in two days. He was a pastor and prophet offering liberation at every turn. “Let’s set you free from your mom. Let’s set your mom free from having to get this. Let’s set everyone free who doesn’t get this yet.
  • The idea that compels you? It’s already been very generous to you. This thing doesn’t owe you a thing. If one person enjoyed it beyond you, it’s icing on the cake.
  • Resist the temptation to explain your work or the outcome of the work. Great artists never explain their work. Bob Dylan never explained his lyrics and yet we’re still talking about them.
  • The stuff I make starts to do something for me. So I do that. Everybody’s free to listen in. The thing will tell me what to do with it next. Don’t do it for other people. Do it for the pure joy and creativity of it.
  • You have a thing you want to do the in world. But it’s really a way into a deeper conversation you want to exist.
  • I know I’ve tapped into something when it feels absurd. Notice when you’re bored just talking about an idea. Let’s be after wonder and awe instead. Sure, you’re good enough to just do the job. But we’re here to be in over our heads.
  • This idea found you. It’s not all on you. You didn’t bring it into being.
  • I was never given a plan. In my experience, you only get one step at a time. Release needing to know the other steps.

Kristin Hanggi, director, producer & screenwriter

  • Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey
  • The Heroine’s Journey
  • “You’re not here to figure out your screenplay. You’re here to let your screenplay figure you out.” Surrender to the thing that wants to be born through you. We’re all scared. But the thing knows what it wants to do. Daily practice of surrendering to the thing. Show me. Reveal yourself to me. 
  • The energy already knows where it wants to go. The story and the idea already knows what it wants. Surrender the thinking mind.
  • The thing that wants to come through us is the answer to a problem in the world.
  • Went through a season where all the movies I made weren’t getting greenlighted. Realized I was waiting for someone else to greenlight them. I started making them and then people responded.
  • A pro doesn’t wait. The energy starts with them. I thought it was about someone else’s yes but it wasn’t. It was about me deciding I was going to make this movie no matter what.
  • The energy with which we create something is infused in the thing we create. – Marianne Williamson
  • Getting in a good mood helps the idea come out to play. It will speak so clearly about what it wants to look like. But I have to listen first. Then I can act on it.

Participant: “I don’t want to give this new book I wrote to the Christians. They’ll ruin it.
Rob: Welcome to my career. (So. Much. Laughter) 🙂

Bryn and I getting a picture with Rob before we headed out!

So there you go! I’m thankful for Rob’s presence in our world. Here’s to mentors we meet with in person and the ones who inspire us from afar. We’re all just walking each other home.


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