I have one simple rule for surviving camp. It’s a personal rule, and not one that I share. It does not affect other people. It does not make me a better leader. Quite the contrary: it’s a survival tip.
So, here’s my survival tip for camp: use the same shower each day and learn which way the knobs turn. Simple enough?
Years ago, early on in my camp ministry, I learned the painful lesson that the hot water doesn’t always turn the same way to shut off. Simply put, I changed showers one day and instead of turning off hot and cold, I turned the cold water off and cranked up the hot, resulting in a scalding.
Last week, my survival tip got put to the test as I took two lukewarm (read: cold) showers, thinking the hot water would kick in eventually. It never did. Until, the teenage boy who was helping me at camp cracked the code: the other knob turned on the hot water. I was convinced hot water was going to flow by turning the cold knob.
I am so grateful for the boy who figured that out, communicated it to me, and blessed my week as a result.
So what’s the leadership lesson? Sometimes, those with less experience have fewer assumptions of superior intelligence.
Here’s a teenage boy who has a fraction of the camp experience I’ve built up over my lifetime, and he had the audacity to try something I had not tried yet. His lack of life experience cannot stand up against my infinite wisdom, right? After all, I have survival tips I live by at camp. He doesn’t have that, so he cannot possibly be as wise as me.
As a leader, fight the temptation to think you have it all figured out, and as long as you stick with your process, it is bound to work. Instead, learn to listen to and trust those around you, especially those who are younger than you.
In the church realm, this may mean including others while re-evaluating a program or event. Other people will look at certain elements through a different lens, and you just might learn something from it along the way.
Arrogance chokes the life out of creativity. Thinking you have every answer negates your long-haul influence.
Who knows, maybe one day you’ll have someone help you learn you don’t have to take a cold shower.
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Earlier this week, I blogged about one of the leadership lessons I’ve shared with a group of kids at camp. You can read the initial thoughts here.
The basic idea is as follows: Leaders Learn.
Pretty revolutionary, right? Okay, maybe not, but sometimes necessity breeds simplicity.
If we truly expect to learn as a leader, we have to be willing to change things about ourselves based on what we learn.
This week at camp, as I’m spending time pouring into leaders, I am being forced to evaluate my own leadership learnings. I am being challenged, taught, stretched, and pushed. I am finding areas where I need to work and improve.
Changing things about ourselves does not mean being wishy-washy or insecure. It is recognizing mistakes and make a conscious effort to minimize those mistakes.
If you are constantly late, learn what it takes to show up early (usually a mindset change).
If you are consistently critical, learn how to speak life to those around you.
If you are continuously defensive, learn how to see things from another’s perspective.
As leaders, we can never get to a point where we feel we have it all figured out. I know there are times where I have no clue what I’m doing, or I make silly mistakes. But if I am unwilling to admit my mistakes and embrace the changes that are necessary, then I can never grow as a leader.
The same is true for you. As you lead, whether it be a group, an individual, or anything in between, take time to learn as you lead. Trust me, those who follow you will appreciate the effort, and your willingness to learn and change things about yourself will rub off on those you lead.
I am once again leading a leadership track at camp this week. I love having the opportunity to pour into students and connect with other youth workers.
So much of what I’m sharing with the students this week comes from ideas I have written about already, but some are lessons I’ve learned along the way that haven’t made an appearance here yet.
Last night, I shared a simple thought: Leaders Learn.
There are a few sides to this thought. First, in order to learn, it helps for a leader to discover things about herself. This may mean discovering gifts, strengths, abilities, passions, or any number of positive attribute. But part of discovery also bleeds into the area of things we would not like to admit.
A leader who cannot find a weakness in himself need only ask those around him for a full report. We all have weaknesses, but we choose whether or not we are open to learning what they are.
So, are you, as a leader, taking time to learn things about yourself? When was the last time you took some time to evaluate?
Second, in order fulfill the Leaders Learn mantra, a leader needs to learn to be honest with himself. Honesty may be one of the most crucial and beneficial pieces of learning. If someone is unwilling to be honest, then everyone around him or her fails.
Honesty, however, comes at a price. We will be unable to be honest with ourselves if we are unwilling to pay the high price of growth.
Are you growing? When was the last time you took time to be honest with yourself?
As I’ve studied leadership more and more, and as I have tried to become a student of leadership, a few things have stuck with me.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is the foundational definition of leadership comes from John Maxwell: Leadership is Influence. (here’s a blog post from 2005 written by Maxwell that starts with this idea)
In my job, I get to watch as students display influence and leadership over those around them. Many of them do not realize what’s happening, but some of them do.
One of the things I enjoy doing is finding someone who is exhibiting excitement, point in them in the right direction, and let them lead.
One example comes from our Vacation Bible School this week. During the music rotation I noticed a lack of energy coming from my group of students, and the lack of energy negatively influenced the younger kids in the room.
But there was one boy, in particular, who was displaying some excitement. So, I pulled him aside, pointed this older student in the direction of some younger students, and watched as he walked over, stood by, danced by, and after a short while, influenced these younger kids to join him.
Leadership doesn’t always have to be leading organizational change or altering the course of mankind. Sometimes, leadership happens by encouraging the person next to you to dance a little.
We all influence someone. How can you maximize your influence today?
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