Close your eyes and imagine this with me:
There’s a guy on the stage playing his heart out on a piano and he’s delivering a sermon with his music. I guess you could even say he was on fire (like Jerry Lee Lewis). People in the crowd are standing up, waving their hankies in the air, and unabashedly raising their voices in response back to the music. It’s a beautiful moment, for sure. It’s the moment when that man gives the gathered crowd all he has. No one will be the same after that.
Well, this was my story. A story that I lived and breathed for over 15 years. I never understood how those moments would affect my life in the business world, but I am beginning to understand it more and more each day.
Here is a bit of that good ole’ gospel music:
If you were not raised in church or in the same type of church I was raised as a child, let me define an important term: evangelist.
An evangelist is a person who preaches the Good News. In my world, this means a person who serves as an itinerant or special preacher, especially a revivalist.
Now, what the heck is a revivalist, you ask? Good question. A revivalist is a person—especially a member of the clergy—who promotes or holds revival meetings. (Think special church services with guest preachers who stir up the crowd with a hellfire and brimstone sermon to challenge their faith and create more converts.)
Stay with me here, I’m going to get us where we need to go.
From a very young age, I can remember how evangelists would travel in and do these special revival services. These people had a tendency to blow in, blow things up (hellfire and brimstone will do that), and then blow out, leaving the church staff to deal with what had taken place.
This is not much different then where I am today as a disruptor.
I get calls and engagements now that ask me to do this same exact thing. Instead of hellfire and brimstone, I call them “scare the sh*t out of them” presentations.
Close your eyes again and let’s try on a different scenario.
I’m in my jeans, earrings, and untucked shirt. My hair is bleached or brightly colored, depending on my mood. I walk into the room and the crowd sits in their business suits or maybe their business casual outfits. You can feel them thinking, “Who the f*ck is this crazy person?”
(Don’t laugh. It’s true. I see it over and over again.)
I open my mouth to start the talk (the hellfire and brimstone) and that’s when the combustion starts. Things that seem so simple and clear to me begin to make the crowd either jump for joy or squirm in their seats. I’m on fire again. I’m dropping truth bombs; they’re trying to process what they’re hearing.
Often at the end of those talks, the crowd doesn’t know what to say or do. They just look at me like, WTF. I walk out of those conferences and meetings and just wonder, “What did you just do Shawn?”
A big learning for me through all of this is that, once you get clarity about you calling (your purpose in life), worrying about what you just did is less of an issue. I’m clear that a significant part of my calling is to blow in, blow up, and blow out. That’s who I am; that’s what I do. And I’m ready to lead the way by saying what needs to be said to disrupt what needs to be disrupted—even if it makes people uncomfortable.
My challenge to you is to collaborate with me in this disruption journey. None of us can do it alone. I’m the evangelist—the one who comes in, stirs things up, and then leaves so that someone else can tackle what happens next. In this world of disruption, we need all kinds of people with different passions and skill sets who can pass the baton along the journey—from the starting pistol to the finish line—until we make the changes that need to be made.
So, what’s your role here? If I’m the evangelist, what are you?
Your Truth Teller,
Shawn “Man On Fire” Nason