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Community Transformation

According to the Chicago Area Running Association (CARA), today officially kicks off marathon training with a 3-mile run. I have decided to follow the Novice II plan which encourages a combination of the basics: short runs, speed work, cross training, and long runs.

Can an app help you learn?

With the start of this training program, the whole issue of training or learning something new has been on my mind a lot lately. What are the key factors that need to be in place for someone to really learn? For example, I have been trying to teach myself the piano using an app. The piano needed to be tuned so the app stopped understanding certain notes that I had been playing. It took me a few months to get the piano tuned so I lost valuable learning time because I was dependent on the app. Had I been teaching myself from sheet music, a YouTube video, or an instructor, I would be farther along in playing a song anyone can actually recognize! 

What about a mentor?

Michael Lindsey interviewed 550 senior leaders to determine the factors that enable one to perform a senior position of influence later in life. Lindsey found that there is no meaningful connection between filling a leadership role and what you did before the age of 20 including where you went to school, what your grades were, or your economic status. What seems to matter in developing individuals of influence, is what one learns in the context of an authentic, formative relationship that exists over time with a mentor.

Or mentoring programs?

But not just any mentor or mentor program will help us learn. I remember becoming a senior manager at Accenture and getting the chance to participate in a formal, professional, mentoring relationship with a Partner. I selected someone based on his personal faith story because it intrigued me. The mentoring relationship was a disaster and didn’t last for long. This example supports the research that formal mentoring relationships don’t work. What does work is mentoring in the context of a “give and take” perspective where each person learns from the other – where one forgets who is supposed to be the mentor and who is the mentee.

It depends!

Princeton University posits a learning process that is based on the basics of any consulting arrangement – determine the gap and then fill the gap. But this process presumes we know the goal to which we are striving. When organically transforming a social system, whether it is a person, a community, or an organization, no one is really working to fill a gap. Instead, the definition of the "to be" may actually be limiting as it is based on our own understanding at the time of what is possible.


So, what does any of this have to do with running a marathon or transforming a community through mission work. I honestly don’t know! I do know, however, that true transformation is much harder than running a marathon and it needs your support. If you don’t want to support my endeavors to transform a little church in Quito by clicking the link below, then pick a transformation of your own choosing and support that one instead! 

The donation you make through the link below is tax deductible using EIN #217-0832096. 

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