I was interviewed for a college webinar about church communication. After a lively discussion with the Integrated Marketing Communication professor, he made me pause with his final question:
“Many college students are listening to you. What do you wish you knew then that you know now?”
Here are the 5 things that came to mind:
- Insatiably learn so you can pivot quickly. Sadly, at college, I only studied to pass tests. Once I graduated, I struggled to understand the need to be a life-long student. Then I read “Who Moved My Cheese” and realized that life was about pivoting to the next big thing. The only way to identify those paths? Read, research, listen, and learn. I moved from a (non-computer) graphic design degree to working in Information Technology and training people on the internet. Then pivoting to run a national agency for churches in a foreign country (I’m Canadian). Then leading regional and national organizations as a speaker and bestselling author about church communication. Studying leads to pivoting; and that’s allowed me to find an audience and a relevant message.
- Be open to all opportunities but only say yes to some. There are SO many opportunities that present themselves if you’re willing. But through prayer, only pursue some to the point of accepting them. Better to be open to many possibilities than to shutdown an unexpected opportunity. But learn how to say no kindly if something doesn’t make sense. Everything can’t be a good path.
- Make everyone around you a hero; and become their sought-after guide. It seems many contacts will end up circling around in your life. Creating healthy relationships is essential. Which ones? You don’t know who you’ll need in the future. So elevate every person you meet to a hero. Make them feel your respect. Offer guidance but never try to become the hero!
- Know what you want to be known for; and plan your steps through God’s guidance. God’s uniquely created you with skills and experiences that become a formula for the place He’s going to use you. Based on what you know now; and knowing God wants to use you to do His work, prayerfully dream about what you want an audience to know you for. Then seek out the audience and create the message they need. Fill the resume holes with more study and seal it all with prayer. Discovering God’s calling early, will guide you to Godly contentment along the journey.
- Embrace your uniqueness and sell it to a willing audience. Wow, there are few people like you. Embrace the uniqueness of your experience, your personality, and your flaws. Consider how those oddities can attract an audience when you authentically accept them. I found myself as a Canadian in an American college and God used that uniqueness to allow me to stand out. Then He used my American degree from a Christian college to open doors for my first job back in Canada. You never know what small aspect will be the foundation of your personal brand. Many brands are based on a unique selling proposition!