Author Archives: bwcole

The Heart Behind The Task

I’ve had this on my heart for a time, so here we go…

Communication is becoming so fast, so real time in our age- with Skype, SMS (txt), and email – it’s not uncommon now to receive text messages from my clients instead of e-mail.  It definitely has it’s benefits, and I welcome those, as with any accepted technology, it quickly has become part of how we all interact. Can there be too much of a good thing?

I generally reserve text for super-time critical messages, since in most cases, a text is an interruption to someones space, and it carries with it an expectation of a fairly speedy answer, so I save those interruptions for the near emergencies. E-Mail is something that generally you check on schedule of your choosing, so that’s my main form of communication. But I get texts from individuals frequently, that were not emergencies in any way – they were just a fast response to a thought by that person, and so they sent  a text to get the thought off of their plate as soon as possible (or before it is forgotten.)

But have you noticed something else happening?

How many times do you receive txt like:

Hi Bryan, how are you? Do you have a moment?

Rarely – it usually starts right into task. I call it “the endless conversation.” I may not have received a text from someone for weeks, yet the person will start the message with:

Can you {task} …

I’m fairly certain that folks are not intentionally being rude to each other, but I do believe we are missing something. Lets say you are walking down the street, and you see someone you know, and you realize that you need something from them. Do you just walk up and say, “{insert task here…}?” That would be socially odd if you did, as one usually allocates at least a sentence or two to check in, and acknowledge the human behind the task.

Hmm… maybe not. We may have just uncovered what’s behind this – how do you view those you interact with? Are they simply a method to execute a task, or are they a living, breathing human being with a heart, someone you care for?  How about in your emails – do you include a salutation? If not, that’s akin to just walking away from someone in person when you are done with them.

I’m guessing this is something you may need to sort out for yourself. And in fact, it may not have even been something that warranted attention in your life – your communication world may have just taken on a “It’s what you do” sort-of position.

I get that, but keep reading, you might want to give it some thought.

When I was a young teen, my mother gave me a “Grumpy Smurf” along with the wise words of, “your choice…” That shook me up, and caused me to introspect. It was her way of saying that I wasn’t really giving thogrumpy-smurf---google-searchse around me the time of day, that I had become very focused on me, and through my interactions with people it was clear who I thought they were there to serve. That marked a (slow, long) turning point in my life – a point where I chose to try to live “other’s-centered.” I fail at this regularly, but over the years I have become much better at it. And it’s become more of who I am, and it’s caused me to think differently about interaction.

I’ve worked to shift my thinking from considering people simply as tasks that I am forced through life to interact with, and instead to think of them as living, breathing human beings that I have the privilege to interact with. Is that the truth all of the time? I’d be lying if I said so.. but I will say this – the longer I think this way, I seem to encounter less exceptions to this rule. Hmm…

It is really a shift in thinking – a different paradigm. The task or function that you need from someone else becomes secondary to truly checking in with them, and making them feel important – at least more important than what you need from them. Don’t get me wrong – in text, I may simply show this by respecting their time: “Hi Bryan, got a min?” may be the txt greeting. Takes all of about 10 seconds to type, but to many it communicates that they are important, that I have a request, but I want to make sure they have time. I’ll begin an e-mail thread the same way, something like “Hi Bryan, hope you are well.” And I always hand type a salutation at the end of every message. Having “Thanks.” in your signature line can seem fairly un-authentic – I type the salutation a little differently each time – it keeps it real.

Is this behavior received by everyone the same way? No. Do I do this in emergencies? Not usually. Does it have an overall effect on the majority of the people I interact with? Sure does. But even more than that, it keeps me cognizant of the most important things in our world – others, and the relationships we get to have with them. If we lose that, in my humble opinion, we’ve pretty much lost it all.

Feel free to share your comments!

Am I A Fraud?

As I begin to travel more from place to place, and help organizations solve technology challenges, I often find myself having conversations with the (not so helpful side of) that little voice in your head:

“You are such a fraud”
“You are THIS close to being exposed”

I was recently reviewing some of my material on Calling that I so loved from Ransomed Heart Ministries. I had not cracked open some of this content since about 2012, when I was still consulting with Ransomed Heart on all things technical, and it was refreshing to listen from my current vantage point. At one point the men were speaking about how, in their current seasons of living with more clarity on their individual calling than they had ever had, their was still a fear – a fear that all of it is not real, or that it could end at any minute. They indicated that this is a mile marker that you are “oh so close.”

When I first heard some of the men of Ransomed Heart share stories of their own personal journeys to live in their calling, I remember deep longings of wanting that so badly for myself. Right before the turn of the decade, I had been able to define some of the things that bring me to life, however marrying those desires to a vocation seemed so far away – in fact, the gap between those desires and my daily activities seemed miles wide.

I had no idea how I would ever get as close to my calling as the men in the Ransomed Heart audio message were to their own. But now as I listen to again, a few years later, I see parallels between my own (still unfolding) story, and the stories shared by the men. I believe that those “little voices” are indicators as well to me, that i’m getting really close.

Whenever a conversation dances dangerously near what the world might call a coincidence, a dear friend of usually says, with a wink, “ huh…”

When I think about what I currently do day to day vocationally, the very core of it is not something that you could even remotely consider to be work. Don’t get me wrong, I am not afraid of effort, and in the execution of what I do, I extend a fairly large amount of effort into delivery of the final product. However my clients are always saying things like “you are amazing” and “you are so smart.” While those words are flattering, I believe they speak more to the truth of what is at work here; that when you are operating from within the zone of your calling, whatever that may be, you bring a level of knowledge, understanding, and clarity, that can not be matched by someone who just works very hard at it, but is really not gifted in that area. And every last person has this in them in some area.

When these flattering comments come, it’s about then that I hear the voices. When I look at my actual level of experience, and compare it to the experience level of those who work hard at the same profession but perhaps not in the same level of alignment to their core gifting, the little voices (the enemy) comes in to try to dissuade my own beliefs, creating doubt in my own abilities. The enemy is no slouch, he knows exactly how to derail someone flirting with their calling – by creating personal doubt about that very calling. One of the things I feel is very important as we begin to understand our calling, is to believe in it, own it, and walk in it. Belief in your innate abilities is required for you to live “in them at a deep level” and for you to “own” them. So it’s no wonder that the enemy wants to undermine that belief – as it is a foundational ingredient to the recipe of our calling.

And here’s the exciting thing that I know without a doubt – We ALL have something in us from our maker, that he invites us on the grand journey to learn, discover, and grow into. And what’s double fun, is that in learning about ourselves. we learn more about Him. When we partner with how he made us, we partner with God himself, and his plans for world domination (come on, you know He wins in the end!)

Anyone else out there hearing the little voices?


Subject Line Emails

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m just oversensitive about this – but I really disdain emails where the whole “meat” of the e-mail is contained within the subject line…

A little background…

I think communication well executed is of paramount importance in our relationship economy, and something that is unfortunately not given the attention and effort that it deserves. In all but a few rare exceptions, my e-mails, even to very regular recipients, contains a greeting, and a salutation – and I’m not speaking of a fixed salutation stored in a signature block – these are hand typed, and vary with each e-mail (the fixed signature block salutations are pretty easy to spot after the 3rd or 4th e-mail says the exact same thing, in the same font, spaced exactly the same way.)

I guess what I’m trying to communicate to recipients when I send messages is that they are more important to me than the task or subject of the message. But as a result their message is also important to me as well (just not as important as THEY are.)  You’ve all received the e-mail (or txt for that matter) from someone whom you’ve not communicated with for weeks, and the message is simply a one line message, usually a task (could you “X” for me?) To me, and again, maybe I’m oversensitive on this, that type of message just tells me that completion of the task is more important to the sender than our relationship. I always start with a “Hello {name},” and if it’s been a while since I’ve spoken with them, I will ask how they are, or some other relevant question.

It’s so easy with all of the non face-to-face communication methods we now have at our disposal, to condense a relationship down to just task(s).

The amazing part to me is how often this happens at church – where we are in a general sense committed to community – which implies relationship. But at church, this very thing actually happens even in person – I’ll walk around church on Sunday, and folks that I’ve not spoken to in a while, will need something (I often hold a ‘role’ at church) and you won’t hear “Hi, how have you been,” or any other kind of check in with me personally, just “Hey Bryan, I need…”

I find it somewhat baffling…

I realize we are talking about perceptions here – Most times people have not set out to “be” this way, it’s just happened as a result of time pressures. I’m merely asking that we elevate the importance of the individuals we relate with on a daily bases to a position above the tasks that our daily duties require from them – after all, the people in our worlds are more important than just about anything else. If we lose relationship with people, we’ve lost pretty much everything.


Sharing with Urban Life Church

I had the honor of being asked to share recent parts of my story with Urban Life Church on February 5, 2012. My dear friend Bill Jenkins pastors this intimate group of believers. It is affectionately known as “Church in a Bar”  by many that know of it, as it meets, literally, in a bar in downtown San Jose. There’s something about that that just seems cool – like where Jesus would be hanging out today..

Hope you find something helpful in my story.