Saturday, April 17, 2010


Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day omnium-gatherum\ahm-nee-um-GA-thuh-rum\ noun: a miscellaneous collection (as of things or persons) Example: The book, a collection of short stories, is an omnium-gatherum of works by various writers.

"By the time we turn around, she is already coming back and the job's done, " complained a teen friend's mom. The same woman said, "She has seven goats by the tail at any one time. I get tired just by watching!" When my mom told me that, I laughed aloud.

People whose primary motion is forward and growing are perceived by others as: 1) welcome activators; 2) competent volunteers and motivators; or 3) threats to stability by those who ponder/control every detail (or prefer extended committee sessions before making decisions.)

Want the wheels to start turning? Befriend a person who relishes new challenges. Hire a free-streaming collaborator who instinctively networks people and resources. Group thinking flourishes when ongoing challenges and ideas get tossed into the mix by high-energy "do-ers." And every company benefits from a connector or two who maximize flow between individuals with conventional gifts and talents.

It can be hard to manage such people: they work with idea clumps and resource webs rather than in straight-ahead bureaucratic or hierarchical lines. They're unconventional in problem-solving. Authoritarian bosses find they're not always cooperative when restricted to small projects or boxed into job descriptions. They may even be perceived as disloyal, insubordinate, or disrespectful as they leap toward solutions rather than plodding through official channels.

Connectors have a hard time restraining their ideas because their minds range freely throughout the big picture. They reinvent traditional resources for non-traditional applications. They seek to grow an event or process to its greatest advantage. They can be completely annoying when we present an idea and our small thinking gets blown up with three more options that never crossed our mind... but could work perfectly. (It takes about five seconds for a creative to explore alternatives.)

A few years ago, I spent a week painting canvases for an event. Coworkers were puzzled by what I was doing in our unused office area. Happily, no one stopped me or said, "You can't do that. I don't think it will work." Or worse, for a web-thinker: "Stop! So and so is the expert at that, so what do you think you're doing?" Or, "Is that what you were hired for?"

I'd purchased four 15'X12' canvas drop-cloths from Home Depot, along with a variety of returned cans of paint and cheap foam brushes. After cutting each canvas into three 5'X12' sheets, I started painting trees. Not just any trees, but fir-like, 12' trunks, with wide branches that continued off the page. Trees around here grow to 100' tall, after all. (And the sky IS occasionally pink and yellow, since there were no returned cans of blue.) Another resident creative, Idaho - the university's maintenance shop "artist," built simple collapsible stands for the huge paintings. Those grand sheets of Northwest color have been used at many events - graduation, a college president's retirement, and special chapels.

Did I know what I was doing when I started? Not really - I had hardly painted before, and certainly never on a grand scale (or twelve of anything.) It crossed my mind as a good solution to fill a huge, uninviting foyer for an important occasion. As the project progressed, useful art emerged. "The problem with you," I've heard a few times, "is not that you have ideas. The problem is that you act on your ideas. The rest of us were just wanting to think."

We need bureaucrats to prevent chaos. They draw the lines others color around and prevent zealous collaborators from assembling an unmanageable omnium-gatherum. However, a system of inflexible hierarchy and rigid lines of "who can do what" will quickly kill the soul of "life-weaving" orchestrators.

Thanks be to God who provides balanced structure and flair to make the world beautiful AND inhabitable.

Read more:
*When you dig a well, you might fall in. When you demolish an old wall, you could be bitten by a snake. When you work in a quarry, stones might fall and crush you. When you chop wood, there is danger with each stroke of your ax. Ecclesiastes 10:8–9 NLV

*For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV

*But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. 'For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.' 2 Corinthians 9:5b, 7 NEV

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