Learn from Everything

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I try to make a habit of looking for a leadership lesson in every situation I find myself in. Do you do that?

When I go to sporting events, I find myself evaluating the psychology it takes to be an effective coach. Or, at a restaurant, I wonder about the training and communication it takes to establish a healthy work environment.

Now, I’m not always silently meditating on these things, but they are something that pops up nonetheless.

More recently, when things have not gone the way I think they should, I don’t criticize the people in the situation, but I beat myself up for not establishing a better culture.

This does two things: One it takes the pressure off the people I’m leading (right or wrong). Two, it puts the pressure back on me (right or wrong).

Part of my approach is cultivating a 3 Question mindset. If I watch something fail, or at the least go poorly, I immediately begin evaluating what needs to be done, what I could do, and who I could get to help. Sometimes I will have the opportunity to make the needed changes, other times I don’t.

I never want to be someone who sits by and criticizes, but rather someone who is willing to take the steps necessary to initiate change.

How are you at evaluating? Can you draw leadership lessons from a variety of situations? Are you at a point where you can answer the 3 Questions to make a situation better?

Leadership Grows

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Our own personal leadership should always be growing and evolving.

On Tuesday I made the statement that we are not who we are today without who we were yesterday. I promise that’s not my attempt at philosophy.

Do you ever find yourself being content with where you are as a leader? I don’t think I’m alone in this. The struggle is always going to be “is this it, or can I grow some more?”

The answer, by the way, will always be yes, you CAN grow some more. But there’s comfort in what we know.

Don’t settle for comfort. Don’t settle for anything.

So, how can you grow in your leadership? Here are a few tips:

  1. Learn to ask good questions, and ask them a lot. I love being around people who can ask a question that inspires me. Find someone like that and learn to ask good questions.
  2. Find people who are doing something different, and learn. This is true of craftsmanship: if you want to learn how to sew, find someone who knows and learn. But it’s also true in leadership. You don’t have to lead like someone else does, but you can definitely learn from what they’re doing well and apply it to your life.
  3. Find the way you learn, and grow. I’ve blogged about this before, but find out what learning style you are, and get after it! Embrace your unique giftedness, and learn.

If you’re not growing as a leader, take some time to evaluate and ask the question “why”?

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Losing Teeth & Growing as a Leader

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Have you ever considered that you are not who you are today without who you were yesterday? Is that confusing enough for you?

Think about it like this: in the last few days, my youngest daughter has lost 2 teeth. This is a normal part of the growth process. Every adult has lost at least one tooth along the way. But, if we didn’t have our baby teeth come in first, those adult teeth would be a killer.

If you’re a parent, think about that for a little while. What if your baby never cut teeth? Then what do you blame the nasty diapers on? Oh, and there’s the whole chewing food thing that becomes essential for health.

So, in order to have our adult teeth come in, we have to have baby teeth come in first. This seems like a simple concept, and it is, but do you think about your leadership the same way?

If you’ve been leading for very long at all, I’m sure you can think of a time where you were cutting your baby teeth. It was undoubtedly a big deal at the time. Then, as you’ve grown, that baby tooth has fallen out and been replaced by another tooth, one that has stood the test of time.

One example would be the foolishness and arrogance of a minister in their early 20s. I knew everything at 23-24. Except, I didn’t. As that baby tooth of confidence (which was important at the time, but eventually taken too far) made the initial cut, it made the way for the adult tooth of realizing I don’t know everything and I need to ask more questions, and always be learning.

What’s your most recent tooth loss? How have you grown in the past few weeks as a leader? Are you willing to grow some more? What tooth do you need to pull?

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3 Question Leadership and Student Leaders

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On Tuesday, I wrote about some ways I’ve been using the 3 Questions with our Student Leadership team. Today, I’ll share the simple nuts and bolts of how we’ve implemented and keep the 3 Questions out in front.

But first, have you seen this post by Russell Martin over at Ministry2Youth.com? In it, he lays out how he used the 3 Questions at a recent meeting. It’s definitely worth the read, so check it out.

Now, on to how we use the 3 Questions at FBC Bronte.

As I said, it’s really pretty simple, but last year we started meeting after service for 15 minutes on every Wednesday night. In doing so, the 3 questions provided an excellent foundation for that short meeting.

So, each week, our student leadership team sits down and we share how we answered the 3 questions that night. Our students know what’s coming, so there is a healthy amount of accountability.

Occasionally, when I see a negative pattern developing, I’ll try to correct it in the meetings. Once or twice, I’ve noticed a kid who consistently doesn’t share, so I’ve gone to them afterwards with suggestions of ways they could answer the 3 Questions.

There is a definite sense of redundancy, but for me, that’s something I’m okay working through. I want our student leaders looking for ways to serve, to change the environment of the room, and to include others. And they do.

So, how could you implement the 3 Questions? I really liked Russel’s take on it, so give it a read.

How I Use the 3 Questions for Student Leadership

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Today, I’m going to layout a little bit of the strategy of how I’m using the 3 questions to train and equip student leaders.

If you’re not familiar with what the three questions are, I would encourage you to go read this first.

Now that you’ve read it, here we go.

Teaching the 3 Questions

I first taught the three questions to student leaders in August of 2016. From there, we’ve been on a bit of a journey. When teaching the concept, it helps to give plenty of examples. For our context, the simplest examples we use are: setting out chairs, getting ice, filling cups with ice, setting out Bibles, sitting with students who are visiting or sitting by themselves, connecting with people outside of one’s circle, stacking chairs, clearing tables, etc.

I really think the 3 questions are a simple shift in perception. If I can get students to see the world around them through the lens of the 3 questions, then I’m equipping them 1) to see the world differently and 2) to change it.

Along the lines of this shift, one thing I’ve noticed is there are two kinds of people: those who naturally recognize opportunities, and those who don’t. I don’t think it’s a character flaw to be the latter, but it does make answering the questions more difficult. I also think this is true of adults. Some people are naturally wired to help and to serve, and for others, it’s a choice they make along the way.

Overcoming obstacles

After a few months of implementing the 3 questions, I noticed our student leaders were only asking other student leaders to help them accomplish tasks instead of leveraging their influence to include outsiders. We talked about it as a team, and I challenged them to include people who weren’t on leadership team, and they started doing so.

One of the coolest things for me to see was on a Wednesday night before anyone else showed up, a boy (who wasn’t on leadership team), walked in and unknowingly answered the 3 questions by putting chairs out. He didn’t know the framework, but he knew he had been included in putting chairs out enough times that he knew it needed to be done. This has happened several times.

There’s More

To this point, what I’m doing may not seem like much, but on Thursday I am going to unpack what I’ve learned a little more. For me, teaching students to answer the 3 questions has been a journey for everyone involved. I hope you’ll check back on Thursday.

 

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