My friend Sarah Cunningham recently released her new book, The Well Balanced World Changer: A Field Guide for Staying Sane While Doing Good, a few days back. The book has been getting a lot of attention, partially because it is packed full of leadership quotes–the kind you’ve probably seen shared on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest (here’s the Pinterest site: http://www.pinterest.com/sarahcunning/the-well-balanced-world-changer/).
But rather than pepper you with more leadership material, I thought I’d ask Sarah a few questions that get at the bulk of the content that goes way beyond pithy sayings and memorable illustrations.
Q: I see great quotes shared online all the time, but this book goes way beyond that. Would you tell us how it is set up?
A: Sure thing. The book is a 280 page collection of 2 to 6 page essays that offer sticky insights and wisdom gathered from all different sources. They’re memorable stories; stuff that offers a breath of fresh air and some often much needed recalibration for the leader who is slowly chipping away at a huge vision. On the practical side, the book is broken down into 10 sections–sections like Worth & Success to Desires & Frustrations–that were chosen to address the most common learning curves leaders walk through.
Q: So what about the leadership quotes? There’s a ton of great and rare ones. Obviously you did that intentionally. What’s your vision there?
A: I wanted to begin a collection of online wisdom where other people could add their own advice and wise insights to the hashtag #worldchangerbook. And I thought a good way to get started would be to comb the work of some of the most inspiring leaders from history and the faith and pull out some great quotes that would be worth passing along.
Q: Tell me about the reader who is going to love this book. Who is it perfect for?
A: The book is perfect for any leader who has ambitiously taken on some sort of mammoth goal. Maybe they are trying to start a new faith community or grow a mega-church, maybe they’re trying to start a non-profit or end some sort of world social issue. But whatever they are locked in on is hard and success doesn’t come overnight. And they chip away at their vision day in and day out, pouring everything they have into it, and some days it feels like even though they are pouring everything they have into it, they are barely making a dent.
The book is for that person and for that moment.
It’d be a liferaft especially for young leaders fresh out of college or the Peace Corps or for people in any stage of life who are just undertaking some new cause or ministry. It would also be a lifeline to someone on the verge of quitting.
Q: I know you’ve had the chance to write a few books and also to help produce some pretty notable Christian events. Is that what inspires the content?
A: I have been blessed, no doubt, to be part of some amazing projects and to learn from some incredible people. But honestly, no, most of the content comes from people I’ve known in ordinary life. A few of the insights come from my dad, who has planted a few churches out in rural Michigan. A few come from various local faith leaders who are slaving away at good things without the benefit of a big stage or national applause. This is like…the cream of the most genuine and honorable people of faith I know. It’s like putting everyone’s grandma and grandpa in a room and letting them talk and writing it down.
Q: Is it a book people can implement to become more balanced?
A: Well yes and no. It’s not a how-to and it’s not five-steps-to-becoming-balanced.
It comes out of a vulnerable but beautiful stage in my life when I walked through disillusionment and burnout with leading faith based efforts. During that time, I was embarrassingly under-equipped to walk through disappointments and find my footing. It took me way longer than it should have to get back on track and keep investing in faith and in good. At several points along the way, I came into new awareness (usually by mistake or through the graciousness of a veteran leader who shared advice with me) and I was able to grab onto a new principle that helped add health to my leadership habits and rhythms. Often times, I would think, “Why didn’t someone tell me this before?”
Slowly, I started to realize that even though hardships continued to arise, I was able to face them with more strength and resilience. That I could more quickly re-frame my expectations or more wisely boundary the way I invested my emotion and energy.
Along the way, I decided to start collecting those insights that I wished I had grabbed onto earlier so I could pass them onto other leaders who might be looking for them and not really even know it. Most of us have mentors, but we’re not always able to get together with them regularly and we’re not always even sure what questions to ask them to get the information we need. This book is like a paperback mentor.
I wouldn’t say you’d be fully well balanced after reading it, because if you are, you’re way ahead of me. But I will tell you this: I’m better balanced today than I was five years ago. And I think I’m on track to be more balanced five years from now than I am today. If you want to journey toward ongoing balance, if you want to find balance, and figure out how to readjust and find it again when your circumstances or goals change, I think this book will be like oxygen. That’s how the insights always felt to me.
The Well Balanced World Changer is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. You can also find great shareable content on this book’s Pinterest page or on Sarah’s website at http://www.sarahcunningham.org.