Be Strong and Courageous!

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Kelly Kannwischer | March 23, 2020

Over the next 2 weeks, I am exploring principles of mental and spiritual strength. I will share characteristics that strong people exhibit and ways in which you can cultivate them in your own life.



Characteristic #6 – Strong People Make Little Bets

Tin Toy was Pixar’s first computer generated short animated film, released in 1988.  Like me, you probably have never heard of it. It’s a five minute short that features Tinny, a one-man band toy.  He lives in a home with a drooling baby, Billy, who puts all toys in his mouth.  Tinny is terrified of winding up in Billy’s mouth, so he hides under the sofa where he is surprised to find all Billy’s other toys cowering in fear.  As is characteristic of Pixar, the story turns emotional when Billy falls and begins to cry.  Tinny lives out his call to bring joy to children by unexpectedly creating a marching band with Billy. 

Tin Toy is featured in Peter Sims’ book, Little Bets, as an example of the power of taking calculated risks.  We all need to take risks in life.  The disruption we are experiencing during the Covid-19 pandemic will force us to take risks that were unforeseen only one week ago.  So how do emotionally and spiritually strong people approach risk? By taking calculated risks. 

Little bets is a powerful metaphor for approaching risk.  One reason is that we are far more likely to get moving by taking a small step then by taking a huge leap with lots to lose. Toy Story was released as a full length feature 8 years after the 5 minute Tin Toy and remains one of the most successful franchises in movie history.  But it started with a small effort with telling the story of a toy named Tinny.  

A “little bet” is cheap, quick and gives you the opportunity to work through uncertainly.  Because small steps are low-cost and can be launched speedily, you won’t collapse if the one bet fails. 

But what if you need to make a big change?  The same wisdom will help you succeed.  Break down the project or idea into smaller problems to solve.  The game company Electronic Arts (EA) refers to this method as “smallifying.”  Software teams at EA give themselves a time constricting two weeks, paring down tasks into small, workable units that can be easily attained.  When we do this in our own lives we don’t get overwhelmed, but rather get motivated to focus and find creative ways to keep on schedule. 

Nehemiah was called to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  It was an enormous task with no certainly of success.  His first step was to do a full evaluation of the city and assess the walls.  Then he worked to cast a vision to recruit supporters and workers.  Enemies and naysayers pointed out all the weaknesses.  Ultimately he was successful by breaking the project down into its component parts: the sheep gate, the fish gate, the old gate and the east gate.  And yes, the dung gate.  Everyone had a role, a clear assignment, and played a part toward the large goal.   

Mentally and spiritually strong people have a growth mindset and take calculated risks.  Research, evaluate, try, assess, and try again. The key is to keep moving and learning so you “fail forward” to where God is leading. 

The Younique Primer is a little bet.  This is a simple and accessible introduction to designing your life.  What will you discover in this disruption that will propel you forward on a new trajectory?  These 6 sessions will give you a framework and engaging coaching so you can make the most of this season. 

I would love to hear how you making little bets in yoru life.   What is a goal that you set that is keeping you focused?  How do you play the ball where the monkey drops it? Share with me your story. kelly@lifeyounique.com.  Be strong and courageous! 

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Kelly Kannwischer

Kelly has spent her vocational life as a not-for-profit executive, consultant and development professional. Former to becoming the CEO of Younique, Kelly founded OptUp Consulting, served THINK Together as the Chief Engagement Officer, and led Vanguard University as a Vice President and President of the Vanguard University Foundation. Kelly graduated from the University of Virginia and earned her Masters degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. She is married to Rev. Dr. Richard Kannwischer and is the proud mother of Danica (age 15) and Ashby (age 13).