Think of your favorite vehicle. Not your dream vehicle, but out of the vehicles you’ve owned, what has been your favorite?
For me, it was a GMC Yukon. It had after market rims, but that wasn’t what I loved about it. You want to know what I loved? Heated seats and an automatic start. It was my first vehicle with both.
I loved driving that Yukon. My youngest was still an infant, and that car was a dream, except for the mileage.
Every vehicle since then has been compared to that Yukon, and probably from here on out (until I find a new favorite), every new-ish vehicle I get will get compared to it.
The same is true in leadership. We compare what we see to what we have seen.
The comparison of the present to the past is not negative, unless we let it become that way. The past, when remembered fondly, grows more legendary with every positive remembrance.
When my wife and I first got married we were broke college students who could barely afford to eat out, and only if that eating out was 49 cent tacos at Taco Bell. We were broke. But guess what, I look back on that time with great love. But I would never go back to it.
Our memory will naturally elevate the glory of things we remember fondly. The opposite is true, as well. Negative memories, when left unresolved, will grow more negative, as well.
Back to leadership. In our personal lives, we compare what we see to what we have seen. This could be positive or negative, depending on our approach.
As with most things, I advocate for awareness. When I realize I have a bias toward the present based on the past, then I am more likely to take what I see for what it is, not for what it has been previously.
Put another way, just because something went poorly in the past, doesn’t mean the ending is the same this time, although sometimes it is.
Just because something worked in the past, doesn’t mean it’s the best way of accomplishing something, although sometimes it is.
Just because someone betrayed you in the past, doesn’t mean a new someone will treat you the same way, although sometimes it does.
Allow the past to inform the present, not dictate it. Learn from your experiences, but don’t allow them to handcuff you.
And understand the people you lead are searching for the same balance along the way. Help them navigate the present and the past, and watch your leadership influence grow.
Have you ever noticed you never realize how messy your house is until someone is coming to visit?
Or, how after you drive by the same thing day after day, you start to ignore it? Except for stop lights. We always pay attention to stop lights.
What about the decorations around you? Unless you’ve done a recent remodel, I doubt you’d be able to tell me what order pictures and paintings are in on your wall.
Time and repetition play a funny trick on us. Over time, the more we see something, the more likely we become blind to it.
This is true in leadership as well. When we lead in similar situations for a continued amount of time, we have to fight becoming blind to key things around us–strained relationships, organizational complexity, insider language, etc.
This may be simple, but for me it’s messes. I get accustomed to a mess until I have a special guest, then I realize there are books and papers all over the place. Then, I find myself racing to make things look presentable.
For you, it’s likely something else. Maybe you’re forgetting about a relationship that’s been strained for too long. Or you are using insider language that makes new people feel left out and unwelcome.
In leadership, maybe you’re focusing too much on recruiting new people and neglecting the care of the ones you have already. Think of someone who has been serving with you for a while who would greatly benefit from some personal attention and go the extra mile with them.
What do you have in your life that has become “old hat” so much that you do not even recognize it anymore? What steps do you need to take to make the appropriate adjustments and give the necessary attention? Take those steps today!
I know how this day ends. By my best estimation, this day ends with me laying my head on a pillow and closing my eyes.
What I do not know, is how the day unfolds. Every moment today will present a new challenge, a new adventure. The challenges and adventures of the day may be something I have encountered previously, or they may be something for which I was not prepared.
Either way, the challenges and adventures presenting themselves to me today have to be met, and I will meet them with enthusiasm.
But, at the end of the day, regardless of the challenges and adventures I encounter, I know how this day ends. And when this day ends, I will be grateful for the time I had and the lessons I learned along the way.
I hope when your day ends today, you will be able to look back and know you made the most of what came your way.
As of last night, it was Facebook official, so let’s make it blog official today.
This past weekend I went in view of a call to Trinity Baptist Church in Kerrville, Texas. They voted to extend the call for me to come as their Minister of Students, and I accepted.
I will start in two weeks, which means a couple things.
First, I fully plan to continue posting during the transition. 3QL has become such a vital part of my information processing, that I cannot imagine it not being part of my routine moving forward. That being said, there may be a day or two where I don’t get a post up, so forgive me ahead of time, please.
Second, transitions create excitement. That means in the months ahead, as I get to experiment with some of the theoretical ideas I’ve presented on the blog, I’m going to make mistakes. But mistakes mean growth, right?
Finally, there may be a little bit of a format change for some of the posts, but we will have to wait to see how that develops.
One last thought: February brought the highest number of visitors to 3QL in it’s 2 year history, blowing the previous record out of the water. I’m looking forward to year full of these milestones, but I need your help. If you read a post you find helpful, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, through email, or carrier pigeon.
I’m so grateful you’re joining me for this leadership journey, and I look forward to continue helping you expand your leadership influence.
I played sports in high school. I was a multi-sport athlete because I went to a small school and that’s what you did.
Possibly my favorite sport was tennis. I was not very good, but I was decent. My doubles partner and I had a unique style, and one that frustrated good players–we lobbed the tennis ball.
But more than that, I played the baseline and my partner played the net. I was 6’4″ at the time, and my partner was somewhere around 5’8″. Picture that for a moment. You see two guys walk onto the court, one tall and the other short, and then they take the opposite spots. It doesn’t make sense, until it makes sense.
I was too slow to play at the net. My reaction time was often delayed just enough that I could not respond quickly enough. On the baseline, however, I was surgical. I could lob a tennis ball with a foot of my aim, and had patience for days.
Now, we didn’t win the state title or even get close, but boy did we have fun and frustrate some people along the way, all because we knew our strengths.
The same is true in leadership. There are certain things that make you unique. The way you approach situations and scenarios is different from those around you, and that’s great. But, you need to know what those strengths are.
Self awareness makes us a better leader. When we are able to be honest with ourselves about what makes us unique, we are better able to understand why certain people seem to clash with us, and hopefully have a little more compassion in those clashes.
What makes you unique? What mindset do you have about things that drives people around you crazy? Who do you need to cut some slack today in an effort to do what is necessary to fully leverage your leadership influence?