by Mike Sessler,

From what I can gather, one of the traits of most successful people is the ability to try new things. Ability may be the wrong word—we all have the ability to try new things. Perhaps the word I’m looking for is desire. I love to try new things. I’m always on the lookout for some new technology, process, idea, whatever. Along the way, I’ve made some fantastic discoveries.

Sadly, I have also had many conversations that go somewhat like this.

Other Person: So, what kind of PA are you putting in your room?
Me: Bose RoomMatch. We’re pretty excited about it.
OP: Oh, I would never mix on one of those. Terrible.
Me: Really? Have you ever mixed on it?
OP: No.
Me: Have you ever heard it?
OP: No.
Me: Have you even looked into the technology behind it?
OP: No. Bose=bad. That’s all I know.

Usually, all I can say at that point is, “Huh.” Now, we all have our biases. We all have things we know that we generally like. Given the choice, I’d probably choose a Heil mic over another most of the time. But if someone shows up with a new mic I’ve not used before, I’ll give it a shot. In fact, that’s how I discovered Heil. I had never heard of them five years ago, but someone showed up with a box full, and we gave them a try.

Try New Things

Alton Brown used to say, “Play with your food!” I tend to agree. Try new things. You never know what’s going to happen. Just because you’ve been doing something the same way for the last 10 years doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Talk to someone else and see if you can learn something from them.

I’m convinced that one of the reasons our stage is so efficient is because I’ve stolen ideas from a lot of smart people over the last 10 years. Every time I visit a church or talk with another TD, I try to pick out something that I can learn from them. It’s amazing how much you will know if you just talk with other people.

Take Ideas From Unexpected Sources

I read all kinds of blogs and magazines and books. Some of them are directly related to my field, many are not. But I try to learn from all of them. I’ve picked up on some brilliant ways to automate my tech booth by reading computer articles. I’ve learned to be a better leader by reading articles on successful entrepreneurs.

Even though Coast Hills is considered a big church, I’ve even learned many things from my fellow TDs at smaller churches. Don’t ever think you’ve learned all you will learn, or that whoever you’re talking to right now doesn’t have something to teach you. Some of the process we have in place at Coast were developed by someone who wasn’t even born when I started doing production.

Don’t Pre-Judge

We all know prejudice is bad. However, we practice prejudice all the time. As I mentioned at the start of this article, some audio guys I know have a huge prejudice against Bose. That might be well-earned; their earlier stuff was not great. However, don’t let that blind you to new innovations. A few years ago, we all “knew” digital audio was inferior to analog audio. Today, most of us would not give up our digital consoles. But I have talked with some old guys who are convinced digital is bad; not because they’ve ever used it, know anything about it or heard it, but because analog is what they know.

If someone says, “Hey, have you ever tried this?” Don’t shut it down because it doesn’t fit your pre-conceived notion of what it should or should not be. Weigh the merits and try it. You might find a great new technique or product.

It’s easy to fall into a rhythm of how we do things. But rhythms can become ruts. And ruts are just graves with the ends kicked out. Stay out of the graves; try new things!


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