A Lesson from a Busy Street

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Yesterday, after making a hospital visit, I sat in my suburban and watched as a student driver tried to parallel park two spots in front of me. (If it had been the spot directly in front of me, I may not have been as patient.)

The car pulled up, waited for a while, then slowly started backing up. Every passing car on the busy street caused greater hesitation, and I could sense the anxiety of the driver from where I sat.

The car ever so slowly inched into the parking spot, except the driver had turned too much and was almost perpendicular with the curb instead of parallel. After waiting for a moment, the car pulled forward and moved on like nothing had happened.

The driving instructor in that car could very likely parallel park with the best. All he would have to do is get out, and switch sides with the driver. But that’s not why the instructor rides in the car. The instructor guides the driver.

Often times, leading others unfolds in a similar way. We ride with them as they attempt something that seems completely foreign and unnatural. We talk them through the strategy, the thought process, and the mechanics. Then, in the moment of truth, they over correct and cannot pull it off. So, we move forward with them, taking the opportunity to help them learn from the experience.

More than likely, we are asking someone else to accomplish something we could accomplish on our own, and often times more efficiently. But if we buy into leadership development as a calling and a responsibility, then very rarely does anyone benefit from our sitting in the driver’s seat.

Instead, if you want to help others grow as leaders, learn to ride in the instructor’s seat. Instruct, guide, advise, but avoid kicking them out of the car because you can do better.

So, do you buy into leadership development as something you are called to do? Are you capable of letting go to see someone develop? Are you willing to let go?

Click here to see how I’m training student leaders to expand their leadership influence.

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Encouraging Students to Experiment with Leadership

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On Tuesday I talked about the need to redefine leadership potential. If you missed it, click here to read it.

Today, let’s talk about how to provide a way for students to dip their toes into leadership.

Over the past year, I’ve been teaching a group of student leaders to ask themselves three questions when they walk into our youth room.

  1. What needs to be done? (Awareness)
  2. What can I do to help? (Willingness)
  3. Who can I get to help? (Leadership)

As they work to answer these questions, their outlook on what constitutes leadership has changed. Leadership isn’t something accomplished only from the stage. Leadership happens when one person is able to move another person (or a group of people) in a common direction for a common purpose.

If I can teach an 8th grader the basic principles of leadership, and give them opportunities to exercise leadership, then as they mature and progress through our ministry, they will lead more effectively at a later age.

More than anything else, as I have redefined leadership potential, my desire is to teach students an awareness of what’s going on around them, and a willingness to help.

If you want to read more about the 3 questions, check out the “Foundation” page, or search through the 3 Questions category here on the site.

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The 3 Questions and Growth

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If you’re reading this, let me start today by saying thank you. I appreciate you reading, thinking, sharing, and participating. I started this blog with one basic premise: I think there may be something to the 3 questions I have started asking myself to help me grow as a leader.

What are the 3 questions? Well, when I walk into a room (or find myself leading an event), I ask:

  1. What needs to be done?
  2. What can I do?
  3. Who can I get to help?

If you’re new, you can click here to read the original series of posts introducing and explaining the 3 questions.

Disclaimer: This is not an effort to toot my own horn, but let’s be honest–there’s a level of self indulgence that comes with writing a blog (probably my biggest struggle with continuing to write and post).

I am constantly amazed at how when I ask myself the three questions in most situations, I am immediately presented with an opportunity to grow, especially as it comes to that tricky third question.

It’s risky to ask someone for help. It’s natural to fear a no. It’s easier to do it myself. It’s less revealing of my shortcomings when I’m the only one who realizes how poorly I plan. It’s comfortable to stay where we are and never grow.

But, once again, let’s be honest: leaders who never grow, never last.

Too extreme? Maybe, but I know I am not going to find satisfaction unless I am willing to push my own leadership limits and encourage those around me to do the same thing.

What about you? What are you building into your life and routine that regularly challenges you to grow? Is it working?

 

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The Horizon of Possibility

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This week is being spent writing a little more about the “3 Questions”. I’ve taken one at a time and will finish with the 3rd today.

Just for a refresher, when you walk into a room, ask yourself:

  1. What needs to be done?
  2. What can I do?
  3. Who can I get to help?

(Click herehere and here if you haven’t read the original posts yet)

Leaders have an ability to see the “horizon of possibility”

The Horizon of Possibility sounds like an awesome title for a fiction novel about an astronaut who gets stranded on the moon, but the concept is much simpler. Leaders can look ahead and see all the things that could happen, and they lead others to help make sure the best option does happen.

Asking the third question has a few hurdles, but first dream what could happen if you embraced the horizon of possibility. Imagine looking at a situation, seeing the options, and then leading a group of people to pursue one option.

As we include others, we are simply inviting them to look at the horizon with us. There will be times where you bring other people to the table and let them help decide how to move forward.

I enjoy bringing other people into the planning process on things. Each year at my church we take a short Spring Break trip. We have done it for 4 years. The first two years we stayed in town and did work projects around town. The last two years we have gone to our associational campground and done work projects around their campus.

This year, as I started planning the trip, I was able to bring another person into the decision making process. We fed off of each other, weighed pros and cons of different options, and ultimately made a decision.

We took the time to examine the Horizon of Possibilities and chose to move forward in a unified manner.

Leadership does not have a secret sauce. Some people are more naturally gifted leaders, and some people struggle with the concept from the beginning.

Struggle, when embraced fully, paves the way for confidence. Learning how to lead, for people gifted with leadership and those who are not gifted with leadership, is all part of the journey.

What situation are you facing today that may benefit from you stepping back and evaluating the Horizon of Possibility?

Who can you bring into the discussion and help them examine the horizon?

Remember, the goal of the 3 Questions is forward movement–movement with a purpose. How can you leverage the Horizon of Possibility to include someone in the work you’re doing already? Are you willing to take the necessary steps?

 

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Learning to Step Up

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Today we are continuing to dive a little deeper into the “3 Questions”. You can read Monday’s exploration of the first question here.

Just for a refresher, when you walk into a room, ask yourself:

  1. What needs to be done?
  2. What can I do?
  3. Who can I get to help?

(Click herehere and here if you haven’t read the original posts yet)

Today, we are going to examine the second question a little more.

We Cannot Accomplish Anything We Are Unwilling to Do Something to Change

As we learn to answer the 3 Questions, it helps to come to terms with our own ability to make a difference. You have influence on many of the situations you find yourself facing. Continue reading “Learning to Step Up”