Three Comin’ and Three Goin’ — October 22, 2011

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Yesterday on our drive from Salisbury, North Carolina, down to Spartanburg, South Carolina, I told Janet and Dollie that I would treat them to lunch at a restaurant. (Actually, as we travel we spend very little time eating in restaurants because they’re quite expensive and also you never know what you’re getting in terms of nutrition. We do a lot of our own cooking and therefore can procure our own personal better choices. That said, every once in a while, we enter the mainstream of the dining world and allow other folks to do the cooking and serving.)

The ladies opted to eat at The Golden Corral. When they mentioned the name, I thought about how important it is to select a title for your particular organization or business. In other words, The Golden Corral sounds much better than The Yellow Horsepen. You see, I don’t see anything wrong with utilizing good promotional skills to put your best foot forward in the world of business–or even in personal presentation.

But I do think it’s important to be honest–and to use the wisdom of the Spirit to lead with your weaknesses and follow with your strengths. I know this is contrary to American capitalism, where we’re taught to lead with our strengths and play down our weaknesses, but there is a natural sensibility in human beings to do exactly what their Creator taught them to do, which is resist the proud and give grace to the humble. So when we lead with our strengths and trail with tiny increments of weaknesses, we encourage those around us to become investigative reporters and further probe into our history to find additional chinks in our armor.

It’s not good.

Honestly, the last thing in the world I want is for anyone to discover my hidden sins and stupidities because I have been unwilling to unmask them for myself. Yet we persist in this “social boomerang” in America–to push ourselves forward in a positive light instead of presenting ourselves truthfully in a more subtle beam of attention.

Let’s take The Golden Corral, for example. Using the concept of “Three Comin’ and Three Goin,” I think they could lead with the weaknesses of the restaurant and close with the strengths. So let’s look at the three comin’. The weaknesses of The Golden Corral are:  the food is high in calories, it has too much salt (so you’ll drink more and eat less) and has unknown content in the gravies, which lift both the fat and calorie count. The positives — or the three goin’–are that it’s reasonably priced, it offers a tremendous collection of fruits, vegetables and salads, and if you’re careful you can get some delicious casseroles and meats that would be very expensive to procure on your own.

The difficulty with leading with your strengths is in trailing with your weaknesses.  It comes across a bit insipid.  Back to The Golden Corral, for example. If I said to you that The Golden Corral has a great collection of fruits, vegetables and salads, casseroles and meats and is reasonably priced, but is high in calories, fat content and too salty, you would assume that the LAST thing I shared was my actual opinion. You would be left with a negative flavor. So it actually defeats the purpose.

If I tell you that I am man with an ever-growing love of humanity and a little dab of talent which I have multiplied into a lifestyle that reaches tens of thousands of people, but that I am fat, bald and have a high school education, I would be leading with my positives, but ending with my negatives, which would make you believe that I am insecure.  What I’m saying is that the American contention of leading with your positives actually doesn’t work UNLESS you leave out your weaknesses altogether, which also doesn’t work because people will find them out anyway.

That’s why I practice three comin’ and three goin’.  I always lead with my weaknesses and close with my strengths.  In so doing, I let you know of my human inadequacy, but finish off with how, by the grace of God, I have been able to overcome my lack.  So here’s how I would actually say it:

“I am fat, bald and have a high school education BUT have an ever-growing love of humanity and a little dab of talent, which I have been able to multiply into a life’s work which is reaching tens of thousands of people.”

You see what I mean? It’s better. If you decide to lead with your strengths, you’re going to have to leave out your weaknesses, or end up appearing to be a total short-comer. Unfortunately, this is what people decide to do–and it renders them prideful and fair game for scrutiny and criticism. If you lead with your weaknesses and close with your strengths, it shows how you have used your life to grow and overcome obstacles to gain a better footing.

I do not know why this escapes people. I do not know why we feel an honest assessment of our vacancies makes us look like we’re not worthy of occupancy. But because we do this, it puts us in a position to be vulnerable to the critique of others instead of being uplifted because we have led with humility.

I can recommend it. I’m not suggesting you change your name from The Golden Corral to The Yellow Horsepen. It’s always good to allow yourself a more colorful portrait. But I do caution you that leading with your strengths will tempt you to ignore your weaknesses. 

On the other hand, leading with your weaknesses will make your strengths ingenious and inventive, granting you the appearance of the persevering warrior instead of the hapless trainee.

***************

Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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