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Are You An Original? By W. Scott Brown

Christian Leadership Alliance

Are You An Original?

By W. Scott Brown ~

Recently I read a compelling new book: Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World (Viking, 2016) by New York Times bestselling author Dr. Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

In it Grant says: “The Declaration of Independence promises Americans the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In the quest for happiness, many of us choose to enjoy the world as it is. Originals embrace the uphill battle, striving to make the world what it could be. By struggling to improve life and liberty, they may temporarily give up some pleasure, putting their own happiness on the back burner. In the long run, though, they have the chance to create a better world …”

This book offers inspiring examples of originals who innovated to create a better world from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Jackie Robinson, Steve Jobs and many more. It challenges our thinking on what it means to be original and offers suggestions on how we as leaders can better generate and champion original ideas. The key message of the book is that we can all think originally and inspire positive change in our organizations. With research, data and memorable examples Grant offers creative new ways to consider the process of innovation and idea generation. He also offers ways to recognize and overcome anxieties that hinder original thinking and risk taking.

Christian nonprofit leaders tend to be originals who “embrace the uphill battle, striving to make the world what it could be.” We serve a creative God who has equipped us with the ability to innovate, take risks for the kingdom, and boldly pursue God’s calling for our lives and our organizations. The Christian leaders and ministries changing the world in our time embrace original thinking: whether it’s innovative ways to share the gospel worldwide; new approaches for rescuing those who have been enslaved or trafficked; creative ways to spur micro-enterprise in the poorest reaches of our world or new paradigms on how to equip the next generation of Christian leaders.

We must continually challenge old paradigms and ask ourselves if there’s a better way to do what we’re called to do. At CLA’s recent Outcomes Conference, Dr. Tim Elmore, president of Growing Leaders, shared insights on that from his Habitudes leadership curriculum. One memorable story he shared was of the leader of a drill bit company who reminded his employees to remember that they weren’t selling drill bits – instead they were selling holes. In other words, as organizations we have to constantly remember what it is that we’re ultimately about – the felt need we’re meeting. Programs and products change, but core purpose remains. Dr. Elmore also said we should ask ourselves: “If we were starting our organizations anew today would we do the very things we’re doing now?”

So, are you an innovator?

Do you think outside the proverbial box as a leader?

Do you encourage innovative thinking among your staff?

Does your organization seek continuous improvement, challenging old paradigms?

What would you do differently if you were starting your organization anew today?

Good questions to consider as we seek to transform our world for Christ. Here at CLA our prayer is that you will continually apply that sort of fresh thinking as you pursue God’s kingdom mission.


Scott Brown is the vice president of leadership experiences and resources for Christian Leadership Alliance.

CLA Members: Get Dr. Tim Elmore’s presentations, and those of other keynote speakers and more through the CLA Digital Pass. In these videos, Christian Leadership Alliance presenters, faculty and special guests offer innovative “perspectives” on Christian leadership. This Digital Pass is offered exclusively to CLA members, for just $199.00. Purchase yours by visiting

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CLA Outcomes Conference 2017: And register today for the 2017 Outcomes Conference where we’ll hear from innovators like Jena Lee Nardella, co-founder of Blood:Water Mission and many more!

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What is Christian Leadership Alliance?

Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.

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