This is Donald Miller. Several years ago a friend asked, “Hey! Have you read Blue Like Jazz yet?” They lent me their copy and I stayed up late (as I often do) finishing it in one sitting. It was deeply moving, and if you haven’t read it or any of his books, I recommend them all. My favorite is Searching For God Knows What. There were several times I paused to pull the book to my chest and whisper the word “yes” into the night. I found another kindred spirit in Don Miller!
I had the privilege of attending his Storyline Conference in Nashville in 2013. I was there alone, for about two seconds until I met Jennifer. I adopted the philosophy a long time ago that everyone I meet is a potential friend, so Jennifer, who was also attending alone, became my conference buddy. It was great to have someone to process with everyday. We were both inspired by amazing speakers like Bob Goff, Shauna Niequist, and Joshua DuBois. I sat in on a breakout session with Christian recording artist, Brandon Heath as he played a sweet song for us that wasn’t on any of his albums and graciously answered everyone’s questions about life in the spotlight and living out your faith. Don’s main sessions had me scribbling hot pink notes all over my binder. At the end of the day I said goodbye to Jennifer and went back to my beautiful condo across from the Grand Ole Opry – a timeshare gift from a generous couple in my life – and wrestled with everything I was learning. Over the course of four days, I mapped out the beginning of my new life plan, then flew home to share my conference stories with anyone who would listen.
But back to Don. As I was thinking through the weekend and going over my notes, my thoughts kept returning to him. He has a team of people who help him pull off these conferences. He has a contact list full of movers and shakers he calls friends. He has several books under his belt. He started a ministry aimed at helping the fatherless. He’s done a long list of worthy things that have earned him the admiration of thousands of people, but that’s not what stands out for me. Don himself stands out because he realized life wasn’t about him and when he embraced that, he found the happiness that had been eluding him. Like solving a puzzle he’d been working on for years, Don found his passion then found a way to use it to help me find mine.
Isn’t that one of our first wake-up calls as we mature? That we are not the center of the universe? It’s not always about us? I admire Don Miller because he’s teachable, he learns, grows, and does better, and he lends courage to others to do better. His whole Storyline franchise is about helping other people tell a better story with their lives. It’s about all of us and the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories we tell others. He had the courage to stumble through the process first.
One of my favorite lessons I’ve learned from him can be found in this post on the Storyline blog: 4 Words That Changed My Career.
I have a psychologist friend who, after hearing me speak at a conference, pulled me aside. At the conference, I talked about how I’d written 1/4 of a novel and thrown it away because it wasn’t good enough. He said, “Don, I think I know your problem. You’re being too careful. When you first started as a writer, readers loved your work because you said what you felt; you took huge risks. Now, you’re always so careful. We miss the Don who wasn’t careful.”
I am too careful.
I admire Don for going first and giving me a tool box to build a better life. Because of him, I’m learning to tell a better story. I’m learning to be less careful and take more risks. I’m growing in my ability to be my fierce self without the fear of being too much and not enough. His courage gave me courage so I could give you courage. Pass it on! ♥
I had a difficult time choosing who to write about today. With the flip of a coin, Don beat out Brene Brown. No worries, I’ll write about her before this challenge is over. 😉
Go ahead. Flip a coin to see which challenger to visit next:
Don at donhillson.wordpress.com
Beckie at free2b2much.blogspot.com
Tracy at countyroadchronicles.wordpress.com
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