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A new beginning…and the end is near.

by Andy Bondurant

The end is here.

The Collective run by Andy Bondurant has come to a close. I’m moving on to new and different challenges that I’m truly excited about.

To read more on the details of what exactly I mean, please check out my brand new site – AndyBondurant.com and specifically THIS post. There you will find some of the best from The Collective, plus new articles and thoughts from myself.

I know some of you have found a lot of pleasure and interest from this site, so I would love to offer it to someone who might be interested in taking up the reigns. I know that doesn’t make much business sense, but I don’t know that this site is really about being a business right now.

What's Next

In closing, I would like to thanks some people…

  1. My wife. She’s been more than supportive during this entire endeavor. Kia, I love you :)
  2. My contributors. I would need to check to get a final count, but I’m guessing well over 30 different people contributed articles and possibly hundreds submitted images for contests. Thank you.
  3. The readers. During the peak, several hundred of you were reading this site every day. That was really cool. Thank you.

A Final List

One of the things I loved writing was list posts, so let me end this post and this blog with a final list. Here are three things I learned from starting, running and writing The Collective (by no means an exhaustive list).

1. Passion is so overrated.

You can’t truly know what you are passionate about until you dive into something you think you love.

For example…writing or photography. You may think you are passionate about something, but when it comes down to doing it for more than just fun is when you really learn how passionate you are.

Are you willing to work hard…get up early…stay up late…for weeks on end? That’s when you figure out how passionate you are about something. Do you step away from you “passion” and begin to miss it almost immediately. Do you stay away for even longer, but just can’t escape the pull it has on you and your life?

This is when you know something is more than just an interest.

It’s a passion.

2. Fear is an absolute beast.

One of the things I most appreciate about the past several years of creating The Collective is learning to push through my own apprehensions, fears and hang-ups.

If you allow it, fear will stop you from doing anything of real meaning and value.

If you are a creative, there is one book you must absolutely read – Do the Work by Steven Pressfield (4.99 Kindle version or 6.49 hardcover at Amazon). It will teach you to press through the fear.

3. Word of the Year.

Had I not written through my first year of my Word of the Year project, I never would have gotten the life changing benefit it brought me. Having to search my thoughts and feelings and then commit them to the world concretized FREEDOM and RISK in my life.

That alone may be the reason I was to start and run The Collective for 2 years.

The end.

It’s been a year+ long process of letting go of The Collective. I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard. But don’t be fooled, I am truly excited about where I am headed. If you want, take a moment to read about it at my current site if you are interested.

Blessings…

Andy

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Making History.

Catalyst Dallas 2013

Last week, I shared a post of my thoughts from Catalyst Dallas. In particular, I highlighted a session by Brenee Brown – a researcher and TED alumni with over 9 million views of her presentation.

Today, I want to share another presentation at Catalyst. Craig Groschele is the pastor of Life Church in Oklahoma City. Craig himself (from a remote distance) is an interesting guy – kind of the hard-nosed coach character from a 1980′s made for TV after school special. That said, he’s a great speaker on leadership.

He now has a book available called Altar Ego. You can also find a podcast on the subject at YouTube.

At Catalyst, Groschele focused on 4 phases we go through as leaders, but finished with what may be the most powerful concept of the conference.

Why do I exist?

Making History on the Photo-collective

Photo Credit: Dunechaser via Compfight cc

He started the last 1/3 of his presentation by asking this question,

My life means nothing to me if only…

It’s the purpose question everyone asks at some point in their life. Groschele continued to share 3 levels we go through in answering that question.

1. Make a name.

Most people start here, and some (sadly) stay here. The person at this place says -

I’m good…anyone in my way is bad.

It’s the pre-2000′s business model. I will destroy anyone and everyone in my way. It’s all about making a name, dominating market share, putting our competition (and their friends) out of business.

I’m a proud supporter of the current “You are the brand” trend. Here’s the danger though – I can believe the lie that it truly is ALL about ME. There’s more, which leads to level 2…

2. Make a difference.

As some point (hopefully), I see that building me (whether me is a person or a business) bigger and bigger isn’t enough. I need to make a difference in the world around me. The person or business at this level says -

We’re good. Everyone in my field is bad.

At this stage you see businesses making subtle or straight-forward shots at their competition. In the photography realm, I see photographers (sometimes out of true concern for their clients) take shots at competition who they feel lacks artistic integrity.

Here’s the problem – it’s a no win situation. The organization is not good enough to make a lasting difference. Most of us become stuck here. We are constantly striving to become better to make a bigger difference, but there is more than just making a short-term (past this generation) difference.

3. Make history.

This is it. What can I be a part of that will more than make a name for myself or make a difference for a while, but it will truly change the world for generations to come. Moving to this level means we say -

Only one is good. Only one is an enemy.

Groschele, coming from a Christian perspective, says only God is good and only Satan is truly an enemy. If you come from a different background, you might label these differently, but the concept is the same. We’re not fighting for me or my organization, and we’re not fighting against a human foe. We’re fighting for true good, and we’re fighting against true evil.

Bill Gates initially set out to make a name for himself, but quickly began to make a difference through his business Microsoft. Gates truly has made a difference in our world by building better computer software, but chances are this difference won’t last much past the generation we are living in. My grandchildren won’t be interested much in Microsoft (my children may not).

However, through The Bill & Melissa Gates Foundation, he is making history. He’s creating something that has the potential to change not just this generation, but generations to come.

Where are you?

Looking over the past couple of years, I see myself desiring to move from stage 2 to stage 3. I clearly remember sitting by the public pool last summer, watching my kids, thinking, “There is something more for me.” Though I’ve been actively working to make a difference in people’s lives for a large part of my life, I know I am made for something more.

You are too. Are you ready to move to the next level?

I don’t know exactly how to get there, but I know it starts by being intentional. It starts by consciously noting there is something more…and I want it.

Why do you exist?
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2012 Word of the Year Finale – RISK.

A little background on me.

For sake of context, it’s important for you to know a little more about me. Immediately out of college, I worked at a church helping reach children in their neighborhood in urban core of Kansas City, Missouri. During these two years, Kia and I lived and worked in this neighborhood, and we came into contact with hundreds of kids. However, it was about 25 or so regulars that I formed a really strong bond with.

Andy Bondurant circa 1997

Andy circa 1997

Over the years, I’ve continued to keep in contact with a handful of these kids (Facebook has really helped). However, most of the children from 15+ years ago, I have no idea where they are, what they are up to or if they are even still alive.

Introducing Trey.

The Friday before Christmas, I was back in the neighborhood. I was there to work to distribute food to the needy. This church connects with various organizations helping hundreds of people in the Kansas City, Missouri area. I led a group of people helping put together these Baskets of Love.

While unloading a truck of food, I was shocked to see one of my regulars – Trey.

Amazingly, Trey, other than a foot or two of growth and tattoos up and down his arms & neck, looked like the same person he was at 9 years old. Looks can be deceiving though. Trey was no longer a child (of course at 24, I didn’t expect it), but Trey had stopped being a child years before.

Trey and I spent the next hour or so reconnecting. He told me his story.

Trey - friend of Andy Bondurant

Trey and his brother in silly hats (Trey is on the right).

For the past several months, Trey has lived a clean life, but the years before it was shootings, drugs, robberies, jail and prison. Trey has already spent a fourth of his life in jail. It’s not what he, his family or I envisioned for his life.

A sobering encounter.

Walking away from the conversation, I was struck by a two thoughts.

1. I reap what I sow.

It’s a law of life which seems so simple. It’s so simple we lose how profound it really is.

You reap what you sow.

Trey has been living a clean life for almost a year, but his past sticks with him. He can’t find a good job. He wants to marry his girlfriend who is pregnant with his child, but he doesn’t have the money. He doesn’t have a complete education. His friends dropped him when he went to prison. The list goes on and on.

With someone like Trey, the law of sowing and reaping seems obvious. In our lives, we miss it if we don’t look carefully.

In 2011, I learned to live intentionally (in order have FREEDOM). The law of sowing and reaping is all about living intentionally. What I do today effects my life tomorrow. There is no way around this.

2. RISK is not glamorous.

My 2012 Word of the Year was RISK. Last year, Kia and I made a lot of decisions that are scary. I learned there isn’t much glamour in these scary, risky, but right decisions.

Trey made decisions that were stupid (he admits this plainly). In one instance, he got mad at someone, and fired a gun into a house. Thankfully, no one was hurt. It was RISK, and it was exciting. It was something you expect to see in a movie, but it wasn’t the kind of RISK that changes a life for the better.

A RISK that improves your life doesn’t get books written or movies made. In fact, people around you – the ones closest to you – may question your integrity or sanity or character. There is no glamour in that.

In the end, you and you alone must decide if a decision is right. Again…no glamour in that.

2013. A new year. A new word.

2012, and my Word of the Year in 2012 – RISK – is done. But if I’ve learned anything about my experience with FREEDOM in 2011, I’m hardly done taking RISKs.

Now that it’s 2013, I’ve chosen a new Word of the Year – TRANSFORM. I hope you’ll choose a word for 2013 too. I promise, it will change your life.

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New Beginnings

Fresh.

For multiple reasons, I am really looking forward to 2013. It’s new. It’s fresh. It’s a new beginning.

Instagram Image by Andy Bonduant - what is your Word of the Year

2013 also is a culmination of events, decisions and journey I’ve been on for the past 2 years. I refer, of course, to my Word of the Year project.

In 2012 I completely and wholly lived my word – RISK. Here is just a short list of the RISKs Kia and I took in 2012:

  • After months of deliberation and various options, Kia stepped out of her family business.
  • Kia started a new business.
  • I decided this (The Collective) was not my full-time future (leaving me without another true vocational option).
  • I accepted the same position, in the same church I had worked at 8 years earlier. How is this RISK? It’s a church in the midst of serious decline. If it doesn’t turn around, very soon I may not have a job.
  • Kia and I took the first steps toward moving from our current home/studio to be closer to the church 30 minutes away.
  • We’ve made some really tough relationship decisions.

Everywhere I look, the present or future looks much different from the past 5-10 years.

Open Space.

Why do I tell you all of this? It’s my way of encouraging you to create your own Word of the Year project. It has changed my life in ways I never saw coming.

I firmly believe there is a God. I believe there is a God who loves me, wants the best for me, and wants to connect with me. I believe God used the Word of the Year project to bring me to a place where I fulfill the call and destiny in my life.

In 2012 my word was RISK. In 2011 my word was FREEDOM. Interestingly, the way I’ve learned and grown from both of these words is different. As I stated above, 2012 was a year of action. I was taking RISK. However, 2011 was much different.

2011 was a year of learning – hearing God speak to me. I know, this may sound crazy to you, but He does speak. He speaks to me in various ways – YouTube videos, circumstances, people, conferences, books, and more. He never talked in an audible voice, but He spoke like a thought in my head…an A HA! moment.

Maybe the most significant time I heard His voice was very early in 2011. I read a portion of the Bible from the book of Genesis. It was the story of Isaac (son of Abraham).

Isaac was very rich, but he had moved about as a nomad. His wealth was in the form of livestock. This livestock required lots of water, which meant he needed wells. As he moved about, he would find a well, but it was always disputed. Who owned it – Isaac or his neighbor? So he would simply drop the dispute and move on. Finally, after multiple wells (and arguments) he found a well that no one else claimed. To note this, he named the place the well was found Open Space.

This was the first lesson I learned about FREEDOM. Freedom is finding open and undisputed space. I shared about it here on The Collective in March of 2011.

It’s just the beginning.

Why do I bring this story up? Choosing a Word of the Year is more than just 2013. It’s about the rest of your life. It’s about this year and next year and the year after that.

The first FREEDOM lesson I learned 2 years ago, I am just seeing come to pass. Finding open space (FREEDOM) meant taking RISK. It was the list I ticked off above.

All this brings me to 2013 – my new Word of the Year.

TRANSFORM

I’ve come to understand I don’t really have a clue about what this means specifically. What I know is in general. As I stated above, my 2013 Word is a culmination of the last two years. Finding FREEDOM and taking RISK will take me from who I was/who I am to TRANSFORM me into who I will be.

My prayer is true TRANSFORMation will take place in my life in 2013.

I have don’t know what this means. I don’t know what all it includes (my job, The Collective, my family, etc), but I’m all in.

What is your Word of the Year?

Will you join me? Will you create your own Word of the Year project? Will you take steps to change your life for the better?

I dare you. Go all in. You won’t be the same.

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Greatness (or how to handle a new life).

Dealing with a new life.

I’ve found myself struggling with the strangest things since recently taking a position at my home church.

An example

The church is 30 miles from our home. Kia and I both drive gas-hogging SUVs. For our own sake, we needed to purchase a more economical car. I went back and forth between super inexpensive and a little more luxurious.

I finally fell on a little more luxurious – a used 2001 Infiniti with 157,000 miles. I probably paid a little too much for what I really needed, and this is part of my struggle.

I’ve lived in a world where my greatness, my status, my worth has been found in things like the car I drive. It’s funny how important, truly non-important things are in life.

I might act like I don’t worry about amount of followers I have on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but I do.

It doesn’t…or at least it shouldn’t…matter. It has.

What is greatness?

I just finished reading the book Who Is This Man? by John Ortberg. Ortberg challenges the preconceived ideas we have about who Jesus of Nazareth really is and was.

Who is this Man by John Ortberg

An entire chapter outlines why Jesus wasn’t a great man. Here are the opening words about greatness + Jesus:

Jesus was not a great man.

There are two ways to think about a meaningful life, says Georgetown University professor Francis Ambrosio. One is the way of the hero, the other is the way of the saint. In the Greco-Roman world, what was admired was the hero. A hero is somebody who overcomes obstacles to  achieve his full potential of excellence and therefore to receive status, honor and recognition. Life is striving for this recognition.

Doesn’t sound too different from the American ideal does it? Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, overcome all challenges, maximize your strengths, minimize your weaknesses and achieve… (you fill in the blank).

Personally, I add on my natural pre-disposition to achieve and fall into the trap of measuring my greatness/hero status based on the car I drive, the number of Twitter followers I have, or how much I sold in October.

For the past few years, all of these things have defined my status – my greatness.

RISK + FREEDOM = GREATNESS?

My word for 2011 was FREEDOM. My word for 2012 is RISK. Consider my last post the summary of what I’ve learned about RISK so far, but let me add to it a few more words.

RISK is the willingness to define what it means to be great in different terms.

Back to Jesus for a moment, On the night he most needed served, he became the lowest on the totem pole – the foot washing servant. He washed the feet of those who were his students, followers…his fans.

It didn’t stop there. Adding insult to injury, Jesus knowingly washed the feet of a close friend who literally minutes later would leave to sell him out to his enemies (Judas). All of this Jesus knew.

That was humility. That was not any culture’s definition of greatness.

That was a risk. It led to true, impacting freedom.

FREEDOM and RISK are held closely together. It’s hard to take true risk if you aren’t free. It’s near impossible to find freedom without taking risk.

Being great versus doing great.

Maybe what I’m learning right now is how others perceive me just isn’t important. As obvious and basic as it sounds, it’s a hard truth to realize. My greatness will never be determined by what I achieve. My greatness will be because of the great things I do with what I’ve achieved, and it may not look all that impressive to the world around me.

This week I heard the story of a college professor who began a lecture by asking her students to write on a piece of paper a one sentence description of what they would be doing in 10 years. “I am…”

The answers were exactly what you would expect of any 18-25 year old:

I own my own business, have developed a name in my profession and have 1500 Twitter followers and 5000 Facebook fans. 

The teacher asked a few students to share their dreams, and then she moved on to her lecture for the day.

At the end of the class she asked a very similar question, only this time she asked her students to write down what would be said of them in 60-70 years at their funeral. Again, they wrote very typical responses:

Andy was a man who loved and invested in his children and others around him. He lived what he “preached”. He made a difference in the world he lived in.

The professor asked a few students to share their answers, and again several read their hopes aloud. Finally this teacher asked her students to compare the first answer with the second answer, and asked this question:

Does the first piece of paper get you any closer to the dream you have on the 2nd piece of paper?

The answer was obvious.

No. My car, my Twitter followers, my status, my achievements means nothing if what I am doing with what I have been given don’t lead to greatness…true greatness.

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