Google is well known for allowing employees to spend 20% of their time not working on whatever it is they’re meant to. They can play around with anything that gets them excited, and Google owns the results. As a result, Google produces loads things it never planned to want. Like Google Maps.
Here are two stories about me in a similar vain.
Story 1: a new colleague
In March, a new staff member joined us at church. He’s great at what he’s here to do, and a fantastic guy. But what I’ve appreciated most is that he’ll chat about what he’s working on or thinking about. He’ll notice something in the Bible or have an idea, and instead of staying in his office to mull over it by himself, he’ll step out and share. We’ll chat about it, and then go back to our work. It doesn’t take long.
Rarely is there any obvious practical application in mind. Most of the time it’s just, “Hey, I just noticed this and I think it’s cool! Don’t you think it’s cool too?”
I’ve noticed a few things as a result of this. First, I’ve really enjoyed it, and it’s made me look forward more to going to work. Second, I’ve started sharing more about the things I’m working or thinking on. Third, it has raised the level of my work. If I’m thinking about something and come across an idea that I can’t get my head around then instead of saying “Hmmm… I’m not sure, I’ll just ignore that”, I share it, toss it around a bit with others and develop it into something cool. My time management has got better. My preaching has got better. My attitude has got better. I work harder.
So if you’re reading this, cheers dude!
Story 2: dreaming dreams
Yesterday, over lunch, Mel and I started talking about something we’d love to do in our lives, a project that will hopefully one day be possible for us. It’s not the first time we’ve talked about it, but we fleshed it out a little.
With smiles on our faces and a lightness in our hearts, we made plans and dreamed up ideas. We thought about things which get us excited, the gospel which inspires us and the values that drive us. And we thought about how we’d love to live it all out. The conversation flowed, and there were a number of “Oh my word, that would be amazing!!” moments.
Because of the nature of the project we have in mind, we know it won’t happen right away. Not long ago I thought that made it a little pointless to talk about in detail. It would only get us frustrated that we weren’t doing it now… But I was wrong. We need vision and inspiration. We need to be able to dream big dreams, look to the future, and get excited. Why? Two reasons.
First, unless we’re dreaming those dreams now, it is unlikely ever to happen. We need to keep the passion and excitement alive, to keep the drive now precisely because it can’t happen right away.
And second, it infuses today with a new sense of meaning. I went back into work after lunch yesterday and had a new desire to work harder, commit more. I could see in the things I was doing new motivation, because all of it is building towards something bigger. Whether that ‘something’ is the thing we have in mind or not doesn’t matter just yet.But I’ve been reminded of the gospel and values we have, and even if the project has to wait, striving after that gospel and those values cannot wait.
Doing this more
So I’m promising myself that I’ll do all this more. I will dream dreams with Mel. I will keep having ad hoc conversations with colleagues. I’ll explore things that get me interested even if I have no idea what ‘practical purpose’ they will serve. I’ll try to think big, not small. I’ll imagine new things, not just rehash old things.
In today’s very busy world where we barely have a moment to breathe out sometimes, I think we all need to learn to do this more. We can’t wait till we have the time. We need to make the time. I don’t want to live my life so bogged down I never have time to dream.
Who’s with me?