Taking the Leadership Leap

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I don’t write about the three questions regularly these days, but that doesn’t mean they don’t impact me. After all, this blog is named after them.

Just a quick refresher, the three questions are:

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

Every person sees these differently, and each person hesitates on a different one. Some people have a hard time naturally seeing what needs to be done, whereas others have a somewhat intrinsic ability to see a need.

Some people find it difficult to find the motivation to do a task, or view tasks as beneath them. The reality, however, is if we want to lead, we have to be willing to do something. The best leaders rarely lead without getting their hands dirty.

Others wrestle with asking people to help. It’s just easier (and more efficient) to do it ourselves. Which is true. But it’s poor leadership. Eventually leaders who never share the load will be crushed by it.

The third question, however, morphs into an exponent when utilized correctly. The math is simple: if I can accomplish three tasks, three tasks get done. If I can invite someone to help me, and they can accomplish three tasks in addition to my three tasks, six tasks are completed. If each of us, asking the third question, invite someone else to join us, the number jumps to twelve. Best of all, I’m able to focus on the three tasks best suited to my gifts and abilities.

So, why is it so difficult to answer the 3rd question?

Pride. I can do a better job.

Insecurity. What if they can do it better than me.

Superhero mentality. If it’s going to get done, I have to be the one to do it.

Control. It has to be done my way.

Leadership is risky. That’s what makes it so challenging, but that’s also what makes it so rewarding.

So, what task or responsibility are you clutching today? Who around you is starving for an opportunity to help, and you won’t let them. Who is waiting for an invitation to unlock their potential? What are you waiting for?

Flashback Friday #2

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This week was a hard one. My father-in-law passed away a year ago Wednesday. We finished the day eating supper around our table and talking about him. Then, for dessert, we had a Milky Way Simply Caramel – one of his favorite candy bars.

So, today, I’m going somber for Flashback Friday. The post I’m sharing is one I wrote where I reflected on his memorial and just part of the lessons I learned from him. I hope you’ll take the time to check it out. Here’s a glimpse:

At the memorial, he wanted an open mic. The morning of the service my wife asked me if I was going to share. Honestly, I had not considered sharing before that point. I thought about it, but really did not know what to say if I were to share.

The people who did share did an incredible job highlighting who he was as a man, father, brother, uncle, and friend. I could not have added anything to the service to make it better.

But after the open mic, it hit me. And since I blog and have a captive audience (you), I hope you will indulge me this morning.

You can click here for the rest. Happy reading!

4 Reasons I Have a Leadership Application

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I am in the process of interviewing students who applied for our Student Leadership Team. The application process is two fold: a written application and an interview.

The written application is a compilation of 9 questions. The questions help give me insight into how these students think about leadership–which is always insightful. One of the questions, specifically, asks how they hope to grow from their time on the leadership team, and from that I learn what they expect leadership team to look like.

But there’s more to my reasoning than just to get an inside look. Here are four reasons why I have an application process for Student Leaders:

  1. An application process sets the precedence that leaders put in extra time. Leadership is one part shifting our focus (awareness) and one part doing the extra work (willingness). If a student is not willing to take the time to fill out a few questions (as little as 5-10 minutes) they are likely not willing to go the extra mile. If there is no commitment up front, then you will get some students who just want to do something for the sake of doing something.
  2. An application process communicates a desire to do more. For some students, they feel like they could be doing more, but they don’t know where to start. When you open a process and allow them to pursue the steps of joining a team, it helps cement in their minds their desire to take another step.
  3. An application process helps establish commitments. I set the deadline and then give a week window for interviews. If they cannot schedule a meeting within that week, then they may need to wait to join the team. Leaders commit and follow through with their commitments. The application process (written and interview) helps teach them to take initiative.
  4. An application process starts moving everyone in the same direction. It gives a shared experience. Every student answers the same questions. I unintentionally left a very poorly worded question on the form, and it ended up being a unifying moment as the kids talked with each other trying to figure out what it meant. They now have the shared experience of trying to answer that question. (This was the answer I was expecting, by the way.)

I have never turned away a kid who applied, although I have had one who filled out the application but at the interview decided to back out (which I agreed with wholeheartedly).

What does your application process look like for student leaders? Does your experience line up with mine? I’d love to hear from you!

3 Tips to Help Pick Your Spots

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Pick your spots.

And so went my advice to a friend about a situation they found themselves facing.

Sometimes the temptation we, as leaders, face is to try to generate sweeping changes all at one time, when in reality the most effective change happens when we pick our spots.

If you face a situation and see ten different things that need addressing, here are three tips to help you narrow down your list and more effectively pick your spots.

  1. Clarify – Sure, you may be full of great ideas. I mean, truly, how many of us ever think to ourselves that our next great idea is a dud? But the person standing on the street corner yelling about ten different things doesn’t garner an audience. But, when you can narrow your focus, your message carries more weight. This bears itself out in preaching, too. A message with one solid point has a better chance of inspiring change than a message with one great point surrounded by two mediocre ones. Clarity pays.
  2. Prioritize – If you only had the relational capital to influence one change on your list of ten, which would it be? Start there. Then, after that one, consider moving on to the next. I’ve been playing a lot darts on my phone against my wife (#millenials). I do better when I have a specific spot I’m aiming to hit.
  3. Move with Humility – Be careful not to sit on your hands and think you don’t have influence. When you approach a situation with humility, then you have a better chance of affecting change. Sure you can barrel through your list and bully people into your way, but you’re the only person that wins. And when you’re the only person who wins, nobody wins.

As simple as this may sound, the reality is so often lasting change happens bit by bit. Take a minute to look around today and pick your spots. Clarify, prioritize, and move with humility. You may just be surprised at what you can accomplish.

Flashback Friday #1

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Today’s flashback takes us back to one of the first posts on 3QL. The post is titled “Don’t Let Someone’s Character Surprise You“, and was born out of some personal frustrations years ago. Here’s a clip:

I have a morning routine. I make coffee before I do almost anything else. Sometimes I prep the coffee maker the night before, and sometimes I have to prep and brew in the same motion.

But do you want to know something that has never happened? I have never pushed brew on the coffee maker and watched the coffee pot fill with soda. Why is that? Because the coffee maker does what it is made to do — make coffee.

Over the years I have learned a similar lesson about people — I cannot let myself be surprised when someone does something that lines up with who they have been while I have known them.

Be sure to click over and read the rest of the post, and thanks for stopping by!

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