Archive - November, 2014

The Power of Atmospheric Change

Certain things spread rapidly among humans: rumors, bad news, accusations, scandals, bad attitudes. The list is long. You know what I’ve noticed about that list? It is full of laziness. It doesn’t take much energy or effort to join in, agree with, throw flames on or perpetuate.

Changing The AtmosphereMoods are just as contagious. A whole atmosphere in a company can take on characteristics from each of them. Salary freezes, layoffs, economic downturns, restructuring, pressure from the top for performance can sink teams and units within a business in minutes and take weeks to months to turn around. Sometimes they never recover. These impact culture and like it or not they transfers to sales, quality and worst of all how the customer feels about the brand.

This same thing can play itself out in relationships and families in the same way. Communities can go from life giving to life sucking with just one sour environment.

Ok, my point is not to focus on the negative here. Far from it. What I want to point out is how often the negative infects our world. I hope by the time I am done you will see that it doesn’t need to be that way.

So what do we do?

We simply change the atmosphere.

A business leader and friend of mine Trent Funk over the last year has taught me the power of a simple phrase. In many conversations he has challenged those he leads to be a thermostat vs a thermometer in any situation.

We bring so much with us into conversations, meetings and relationships. Much of what we bring is garbage. That might sound blunt but it is true.

This is the difference. We hold so much power over the outcome. If we bring a smile, de-escalation, hope, solutions or even silence, that other list quickly dissipates. Remember how lazy those other things are? Well, they don’t put up much of a fight when confronted with the alternatives.

I leave you with this assignment. Test it out. See what happens.

For an example watch the movie clip below. Meg Ryan’s character finds herself in a pretty sticky situation. Everyone around her is making it worse. Then steps in Tom Hank’s character. Watch how he changes the whole atmosphere.

And last, I was able to expand on this topic recently in front of my church. Here is some deeper exploration of how we can change the world this way.

Listen here: Changing the Atmosphere by John Bergquist

I want to give you all my money

Have you every learned about a cause, a charity, or a movement that stirred your heart so much that you just wanted to hand over all your possessions to help them achieve their goals?

Recently I have encountered two groups that created that response in me. I get a lot of people asking me for help. I feel honored that many see me as having a knowledge and understanding of how to connect and build a tribe. I would love to help many more than I have the ability to. But in a world of much need it is easy to become “cause numb”.

How did they do it?

gateThe first organization is Africa New Life Ministries (ANLM). I need to begin with a small disclaimer. The companies where I work, operate directly with ANLM to support our efforts in Rwanda and fulfill our mission to love the people there recovering from genocide.

My family traveled to Rwanda and saw all that ANLM is doing. All of it is incredible from schools, professional trade schools for women, day cares and much more. I was impressed not just with the organization but all of their employees. This is what dazzled me though. When we returned home, like many who have visited Rwanda, I was a bit traumatized. There is a great deal to process. While a great amount of hope and recovery is occurring, there are still plenty of remnants of the 100 days of genocide 20 years ago. While I had studied the history extensively, I had never heard first hand accounts from people I now call friends. It took me weeks to even feel comfortable telling anyone about the trip. But then ANLM’s Ministry Engagement Manager Matt Stein met me for a debriefing coffee. We talked for nearly three hours. He truly listened and cared. I walked away wondering what the difference was. I worked for nearly a decade in the NGO world. It is easy to become jaded and loose hope in what sometimes seems like an impossible task, changing the world. But like Matt, every person I met who worked for ANLM had hope in their eyes. It was a strong and convicted hope too, not naive and uninformed. It was Matt’s heart that helped me begin to tell others about what I learned in Rwanda. Most of all he helped me tell stories of hope.

The second group surprised me while I attended their annual banquet this past Sunday night. I came to support my friends who hadlamp
started a safe home called House of Engedi for women over 18 being rescued from sex trafficking. I walked away completely excited about the work of Compassion First. I have come to know more than a few agencies and NGOs fighting sex trafficking around the world in the past two years since writing on assignment in Thailand. What Compassion First did to wake me up was pretty simple. They connected me by telling great stories, sharing some of why each of the staff was doing what they do and as odd as it seems, being unashamed to ask for financial help, volunteers, encouragement, any kind of help. Most of all they were humble about their efforts. The night was truly enjoyable. It is really tough to take such a dark subject like trafficking and put on an event that leaves the attendees hopeful and energized to help. But they did it so well. Some may say “well it is just because they hired a great event planner”. I have been to many events. And just as I can not stand posing in other people, posing in an organization is just as intolerable. Compassion First is the real thing. Surely not perfect, but oh so refreshing.