THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Killing cockroaches: They'll provide a bridge to success

Tony Morgan is a pastor and chief strategy officer at NewSpring Church, based in South Carolina. When I realized that he mixes careers and church like I mix careers and sex, I was hooked.

Tony combines his religion and his work in a social-media, grassroots, new millennium way. His new book, Killing Cockroaches, tells the story of when he was a city manager, and he was in the middle of running a meeting, and he heard a woman down the hall scream about a cockroach. So he got up from the meeting and killed the cockroach.

He talks about the dichotomy between wanting to make big-picture impact on the world and being drawn to the smaller, but louder, more immediate issues in front of us.

Here is my discussion with Tony:

Tony: Tell me about an instance when you found yourself "killing cockroaches."

Me: I kill cockroaches every day because it's easier than doing the hard stuff on my to do list. I get up in the morning, and my to do list is organized with the most important stuff written on top and the other non-threatening stuff on the bottom, and I so frequently spend my time on the bottom, on the stuff that is small and squishable with just one stomp.

Tony: What are some of the strategies you've implemented to avoid it?

Me: I try to check with myself emotionally. If I'm not doing the hard stuff, I ask myself why. Sometimes I'm feeling anxious or I'm premenstrual or I just yelled at my kids and I think I've ruined their lives (for the millionth time) and I need to just let myself wander up and down my to-do list doing easy stuff. I need a break. But sometimes I look at what I'm doing and I say, "I have more strength right now. Don't squander it." And I go to the top of the list and do the hardest thing.

Sometimes I need a warm up. Like right now. Answering these questions is not the toughest thing I have to do today, but it's harder than, say, answering the emails whee people tell me they loved my last post and I'm great. So I picked this task because I knew I'd feel accomplished at the end because it's challenging but it's not so challenging that I couldn't face it. It is my bridge to the hard stuff.

Tony: What have you learned from some of these experiences?

Me: Killing one cockroach is okay because maybe you are helping someone else. After all, the woman in your office that day was screaming. And sometimes you are helping yourself. We all have times when we are silently screaming. But killing cockroaches all day feels dirty. (Yes, I know cockroaches are the cleanest insects around.) We feel dirty because it is actually squandering our passion and energy. 


Penelope Trunk has started several companies and worked for many more.


1 comment

I have NO idea what this article is talking about...