Gospel Lessons from a Google Exec, Part 2

When I heard the suggestion, it made my brain explode.

At the Georgia Aquarium, I heard Stephen Arthur, Head of U.S. Financial Services for Google, share how his company tackles “the world’s biggest challenges.” He mentioned a different kind of thinking toward those challenges that caught me off guard.

I often find myself wanting to improve. If I can get better by 10%, I’ve considered that to be reasonably successful.

But Arthur suggested we swap out that % and replace it with an x.

Rather than aiming for a ten-percent improvement, ask yourself what it would take to improve ten-fold. He calls it 10x thinking.

If you want to expand your outreach that currently covers ten square miles, ask how you can cover one hundred, not eleven.

If you make 100 contacts in a week, don’t aim for 110; ask what would let you make 1000.

Why 10x thinking?

Aiming for a 10% increase brings more of the same. I just need to work harder. I just need to put in more hours. I just need to be a little more efficient.

The tendency with 10% thinking can lead to all sorts of dangerous trends.

“Not yet, kids, I’ve still got more work to do.”

“I’ll stay up just a couple hours later.”

“I’ll get up a few hours earlier.”

These have been my tendencies. But this kind of approach – just do more of the same work – will never achieve a 10x increase.

I’ve added a couple of passages to my “Daily Meditations” list to help me combat the temptation to “just put in more hours.”

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”
Psalm 127:2

“And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”
Exodus 33:14

10x thinking pushes you to find completely different ideas. It prompts a different set of responses:

  • Are there wasteful steps or activities I can eliminate entirely?
  • Is there a sequence I can rearrange to achieve several times the results?
  • Can I use a different process or different tools to accomplish the same goal in a fraction of the time?
  • Is there part of the process that can be automated?
  • Can I make a single investment of time or money now that will substantially reduce the cost of each unit forever?
  • Are there economies of scale that are available only when I reach a certain pace?
  • And – important in a gospel ministry – Can I train other people so I can focus on the work that is distinctly mine?

10x isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds

Maybe the investment required to reach 10x is more than you can make right now. There’s still value in thinking through what would have to happen to make 10x possible.

Even if today you can’t implement everything that it would take to 10x yourself, is there even one of those changes that could transform your ministry?

It’s tempting to approach a 10x goal with an aim to prove why it can’t be done; why it’s too expensive; why I’m not cut out for that level of significance. But don’t fall prey to that line of thinking. Expand your vision, and honestly seek out what would have to happen to reach a 10x improvement on your area of focus.

By refusing to explore 10x thinking, are we half-heartedly smiting the ground (2 Kings 13:10) and declining a potential blessing from God?

Yes, my brain exploded when I first considered the idea of a 10x improvement. It seemed impossible, ridiculous, preposterous.

There is no way I can work hard enough to see myself get ten times better than I am now.

And that’s exactly the point.

Take Action

Do you have a goal you’re considering for 2016?

Write down what would have to happen for you to reach a goal that’s ten times bigger.

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