On Tuesday I wrote about Leading from Creativity. You can check it out here.
Over the past week I’ve completed two woodworking projects. The first one, as I wrote about on Tuesday, developed from a place of creativity. The second one, however, had a blueprint.
Now, I’m not one who usually likes to follow someone else’s plans, but I knew I wanted a bar stool for our new house and had no clue where to start. So I found a site where someone had already gone through the process and laid out their steps, and my goal was to simply follow what they did.
I followed the process, making a few adjustments (read:mistakes) here and there. The end result was something I could be very proud of: something that looks like a real piece of furniture!
Leadership can be the same way sometimes. We don’t always have to blaze a new trail, leading from creativity. There are plenty of times in leadership when we can benefit from the leadership and experience of those who have gone before us.
This may mean reading books or blogs (like this one!) and putting into practice what you learn. Or maybe you learn better by listening to podcasts, or sitting down over meals.
Ultimately, learning from the experiences of those who have walked the path of leadership before you helps you navigate the path of leadership more efficiently.
How are you making the most of the structure around you? Are you reading books regularly? Are you meeting with mentors consistently? Are you gleaning from the wisdom and experiences of others? Find a way today to benefit from the hard work someone else has put into their own experience and you’ll be a better leader because of it.
Over the past 4 days I’ve completed two different projects, both of which have been furniture. The process I used to accomplish each one is quite different, however.
My first project was something I’m calling a “grill prep station”. It’s construction was very basic. I had two pallets, one of which I was able to cut in half and still keep each half uniform in build. I attached the half pallets to the full size pallet, added a couple 2×8 boards I had laying around, and found three or four more boards to complete the project.
I only cut one or two boards, but everything else was very much a “this might work here” progression. In the end, I love my prep station. There’s room for growth, and I can change things around without any remorse, because it wasn’t supposed to match a blueprint anyway.
The end result is a place for me to place plates, food, seasonings, drinks, and my bluetooth speaker, all while enjoying an evening grilling.
Some leadership experiences are like this: I’m going to make the most of what I have, get creative, and be proud of the end result.
We may find ourselves in an unorthodox situation, and leading requires out of the box thinking. This is natural and beneficial for a team.
Leaders who can see what I refer to as the Horizon of Possibility, look at the materials that have been given to them, and they create what they can dream. The materials may be physical, financial, or in terms of personnel, but the end result is something worthy of satisfaction.
We can all probably think of someone who, with extremely limited resources and personnel, made a drastic impact on the world. They didn’t follow a blueprint, but instead said “this might work” and gave it a shot.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, embrace the freedom that comes from not having to follow a blueprint. You can make a mistake, but that’s okay. Roll with the mistake and make it a strength!
But don’t let yourself become tied to this way of leading as the only way. On Thursday, we will look at the benefits of the other method of leading: following a plan.
Would you like to know a secret? The 3 Questions are not a new concept. They were birthed out of observation more than anything else. I simply put the thoughts into a process, which is far from revolutionary.
A contemporary example of how we can answer the three questions in real life is helping with Hurricane Harvey relief.
As the news stories and pictures and reports roll in about the devastation, how many people with boats have made the trip to help offer rescue? How many first responders have migrated to try to offer help?
All of these people, whether they realize it or not, are working the three questions: What needs to be done, What can I do, and Who can I get to help?
I know of churches who are asking that question today. For some, what they can do is limited by age, and for others their financial situations may prevent other solutions.
But ultimately, as they (and we) work through the 3 questions, let me offer a few suggestions:
In a time like this, leadership becomes key. But please don’t lead for the sake of saying you led, but instead lead with a purpose. Let your efforts have an end result of life change. Equip those around you who don’t know how to help.
Finally, and most importantly, pray for those who are suffering and recovering. The damage is incomprehensible, and some people will never fully recover from the devastation. Pray for those who have lost, pray for those who give of time and resources, and pray for the recovery in days ahead.
How are you on a scale of 1 to 10 on showing gratitude to others? Go ahead, give yourself a number. 1 would be “why would I be grateful to those losers” and 10 would be “I’m so grateful, I’ve built a Hall of Fame for other people to show my gratitude.”
Now, take a minute and think about how you’ve shown gratitude to those leaders around you who have poured into you to make you better. When was the last time you connected just to say “thank you”?
Part of leadership is recognizing where we’ve come from and the people who have helped us along the way.
I think about a few key men in my life who have helped shape me over the years, one especially being my father. I wouldn’t be who I am, or be able to do what I do if it weren’t for his support throughout my life. His model of what it takes to work hard, to think outside the box, and to succeed has meant the world to me.
You have someone like that. Tell them thank you today.
But before you do, let me flip this around.
Have you ever led someone who you feel is destined to do great things? You know, as strange as this may sound, I have a few people in my life who I have led and helped grow that I am proud to say I helped them become who they are (even though the “help” I offered was minimal).
There are a few students I have had over the years who bring a smile to my face when I get to reconnect. And to them, I am grateful for the time they allowed me to pour into them, for the mistakes I made and they forgave me for, and for their continued excitement and encouragement.
So, take some time after you share your gratitude with one of the people who poured into you, and say thank you to someone who has allowed you to speak into their lives over the years.
Leadership doesn’t stop when your paths split along the way.
Find a way to connect today, and celebrate the leadership journey.
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Today’s “Check It Out” is an early post dealing with your own personal development and how to help make sure you grow as a leader. Click here to read it.
Here’s a glimpse:
Look at a calendar, and look back over the last six months. What steps have you taken to become a better leader? Have you had regular meetings with a mentor? Have you read leadership books? Maybe you have attended some conferences, or go to a local network of professionals.
Leadership development for those around you will not take priority until your own personal leadership development takes priority. Let that soak in for a moment. Developing leaders around you will not take place at a rate that is greater than your own development.