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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Do Not Fear Criticism

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Happy Independence Day!

Last week I wrote a blog post, scheduled it, and published it, but I had one problem with it: I thought I could have done better. The title, in my opinion, was way better than the content. (You can read it here and judge for yourself)

The problem was not that I did not know how to match the title, I just didn’t have the time to do it. So, I published it.

“That wasn’t your best post” came the matter of fact statement from my wife Mica, while sitting beside me in a booth at Buffalo Wild Wings. A recently graduated student from our ministry sat across the table. Her eyes got wide when she heard the criticism, waiting for the fallout.

I nodded my head in agreement. I knew it. My wife knew it. The recent graduate knew it (she admitted having only skimmed the post earlier that day). It was perfectly okay for Mica to voice it, out loud, with me in range of hearing. Why?

I value constructive criticism. After being married for 13 years (my longest marriage to date), my wife and I know what’s safe. I lean on her to tell me the things other people will not. I value her opinions and loving correction.

As a leader, learn to listen to other voices. Learn to allow other people to say things to help you do better, to help you be better. When we allow pride to cover us so much that we depend on people around us to merely tickle our ears and say what we want to hear, we lose sight of our shortcomings.

When we lose sight of our shortcomings, we never have to wrestle with the things that will make us better: failure, struggle, and pain. When we believe we have it figured out, we stop growing as a leader.

My desire for you and for me is that we will never get to a place where we are satisfied with where we are as leaders. That’s why I write. That’s why I teach the three questions.

In the meantime, I will continue to write, to strive to get better, and to value the input and honest evaluation of the person I care for the most in this world.

Whom have you invited into your inner circle and given permission to be honest with you? Thank them this week.

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Check It Out: Don’t Let People’s Character Surprise You

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I’m continuing my links back to previous posts today. Click here to read it.

Today, I want to look back at a very early post, but a lesson that covers a hard lesson I’ve learned over time, and one I come back to frequently–don’t be surprised by a person’s character. Here’s a taste:

Every one of us have life experiences that have led us to where we are. Our behaviors are a culmination of our life experiences and our decisions to that point. We have not become who we are today without the influence of who we were yesterday.

Click here to the read the whole thing.

Check It Out: Start Somewhere

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As I mentioned on Tuesday, I’m going to start sharing some early blog posts. This one, titled “Start Somewhere”, seems a fitting place to start. Here’s a glimpse, click to read the rest.

I am a thinker. I have a terrible tendency to be able to argue both sides, even when they don’t need to be argued. Because of my propensity to think, I joke that I spend 90% of my time thinking about what I could do, and 10% actually doing it.

Click here for the rest of this post.

Mistakes Make Us Who We Are

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In High School I judged Dairy Products for our FFA chapter. If you’ve seen Napoleon Dynamite, it was not quite that awkward, but it was close.

I will never forget the hardest lesson I learned from judging Dairy Products: never second guess my first reaction.

This lesson was learned when I thought I had completed a perfect score (something very few people are able to do), but had at the last moment second guessed myself, and lost my perfect score. It was a silly mistake, but…

Mistakes make us who we are.

I judged dairy products for 4 years, and learning from that one mistake made all the difference in the world. I learned to trust myself and my first reaction. I learned to not overthink a situation, and I was better for it.

So, mistakes make us who we are.

Now, as much as I would like to claim otherwise, I have made more mistakes in the time since my days as a “milk spitter”. I am still making mistakes. Most of the lessons on this blog have to do with mistakes I’ve made over the years. But making mistakes is not the point.

Learn from your mistakes. What missteps have you made in the past month? What can you learn from those shortcomings? What can you change as a result?

Making mistakes is human. Learning from mistakes is what sets leaders apart.

You’re going to make mistakes. Let them shape you into a better person.

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