Incoherent Ramblings, Leadership Journey

Leadership & Relationship

Leadership & relationship
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This morning I found a journal that was given to me almost 17 years ago. In it were notes written from youth group members of my home church. The words were encouraging, hopeful (stay in touch!), and affirming, even 17 years later.

As I was reading their words, I was reminded of something: the most impactful leadership rarely happens outside of relationship.

Reading people who write (or blog) about leadership is imperative to leadership development, but the most impactful leadership happens in relationship.

I have a regular habit of watching a video on leadership development at the beginning of each work day, but my life is impacted more by personal relationships.

Our greatest leadership impact is to those whom we lead relationally. When we invest in those around us, our influence begins to grow exponentially. The mistakes we make, the victories we experience, and the joys we experience grow because of the one on one relationship.

But the relationship has to start somewhere.

How are you doing at developing relationships? Are you listening to people, or simply waiting for a chance to speak up? Do you care for those around you, or are they simply a means to an end?

The words I read this morning reminded me–those words came as a result of relationship. Not because of my “great” ability to lead, my wisdom, or my extreme good looks. The impact that was made blossomed out of relationship.

How are you investing in those around you? Is there something that needs to change? Is there something you’re doing that needs to be duplicated? Make a difference today, build a relationship.

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Incoherent Ramblings

Mindset Makes the Difference

Mindset Makes the Difference
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Sometimes, I think perspective is a super power.

And by perspective, I mean mindset. How we choose to view a situation.

What is more disarming in a tense situation than admitting or realizing things aren’t as bad as they may feel in the moment?

Look back at a time where you overreacted to a situation in the moment. How would things have changed if you had taken a breath and allowed your perspective to shift?

I have been taking kids to camp for 16 summers. Over that time, I’ve learned there are some things that are not worth stressing about. Messy bunks all get packed up at the end of the week, but little steps taken the night before go a long way.

My mindset has changed over time. Some things have become less important, while other things have become more important.

When we approach a situation filled with change, we have a choice to make. Are we going to mourn the change, or are we going to accept that change always happens, and agree to move forward in a healthy way?

I heard a quote this week that went like this:

Change is inevitable. Progress is not. Focus on progress and stop worrying about change.

Charles Lee

Focusing on progress instead of worrying about change is a mindset shift. It’s choosing what is more important and focusing on things we can influence.

You have the opportunity to spread a sense of peace to those around by the way you view and talk about a situation.

Your mindset will influence the room.

My question for you is this: are you going to allow your mindset to make your situation better or worse? Are you going to engage the opportunity, or withdraw because it’s a challenge? Are you going to focus on change, or on progress?

Ultimately, you decide. Your mindset makes the difference.

Grab your superhero cape. Change your mindset. Change the world.

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Leadership Journey

Lessons from the Farm: The Right Tool

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Today’s thought probably goes more naturally with the “Lessons from the Farm” series, but it crossed my mind last week and I thought I would share.

I don’t know your level of agricultural background, so I’ll get kind of basic right now. I’m guessing you know what a tractor is. One of the things (of many) that gets pulled behind a tractor is called a plow. There are different types of plows, but they all have one thing in common–their job is to break the soil.

In order to break, or till, the soil, you will sometimes use a different type of tool to actually go into the ground. These attachments are mounting onto a shank. There were three different main types that we used growing up–a chisel, a sweep, and a duck bill.

One of the most dreaded days for me as a hardly working 11 year old was when my dad would inform us (usually my brother and I), that it was time to put {chisels/duck bills/sweeps} on the plow. This was a tedious task that involved sitting exposed to the sun, scooting around for an hour or two, and likely getting a pretty nasty gash on your finger.

But the principle was simple: the tool on the shank wasn’t the correct tool for the job at hand.

Sweeps killed weeds, chisels didn’t.

Chisels dug down into the earth turning the soil over, sweeps didn’t.

Different tools, different tasks.

The same is true in leadership. There is no one size fits all answer to our leadership approaches. There are constants (tractors and plows), but the specifics vary based on the situation and the need at the moment.

We should always be moving forward (there’s no plow we ever used that worked in reverse), but the specifics we use to move forward must be adaptable. Your group dynamics can change in a few months, so be willing to adjust.

Maybe your approach to leadership (if you have an approach) is working great right now. Great! But be ready for a shift in the near future, probably sooner than you realize.

Maybe you don’t have an approach. Put the plow in the ground and move forward. I see too many people try to make leadership development something requiring a PhD. It’s not. It’s creating awareness, providing opportunity, and collaborative evaluation.

At the end of the day, we never changed from chisels to sweeps and parked the tractor. We moved with purpose and for a reason. Do the same.

Not sure where to start when developing student leaders? Here are three questions I’ve started teaching students leaders in an attempt to help them take steps. You can also subscribe to get posts like these in your inbox every week.

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Leadership Journey

The Difference Maker

The Difference Maker
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Willingness makes the difference in leadership. I have written about this before, but like so many leadership lessons, I keep seeing it played out time and again.

Give me two kids: one with natural leadership ability and little desire to make a positive impact, and one with lower natural leadership ability and a high desire to make a positive impact, and I’ll choose the second every day.

A student (or adult, for that matter) who is unwilling to take steps to make a difference will stall in their development. Sure, they have a natural ability, but without the desire to get better or to make those around them better, they will not truly succeed.

A student who is willing to step up and humbly serve, while not necessarily getting all the public praise and affirmations, in the long run will greatly impact those around them. A willing leader is willing to lead, willing to grow, willing to serve, willing to help others achieve more, and willing to make a difference.

I am incapable of changing someone’s mind. I can try to guilt someone into showing up or stepping up, but until it becomes a priority in their life, then my effort is wasted.

Does this mean we give up on natural leaders who are unwilling to lead? No. But it does mean we learn to find the point where we are just spinning our wheels instead of making progress.

Who in your life needs some attention today? Who is in your sphere of influence and willing to try to lead? What can you do to help develop and strengthen their desire and ability? Now, go do it!

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Leadership Journey

Sit Down. Stand Up. Follow Me.

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Leadership is instinctual. I’m at Pre-Teen Camp this week and saw something remarkable one night during worship.

Following the sermon, we started singing again. I was sitting behind a group of boys who were standing and singing. After one song, I watched as one boy sat down. Slowly, and one by one, the other three boys all sat down.

Then, once the next song began, the first boy stood up, and slowly, one by one, the other boys stood back up.

Leadership influence happens with a group of pre teens as much as it does for adults or teenagers.

Our challenge, as people who are looking to develop leaders around us, is to help students (and adults) develop an awareness of the opportunities to lead, and to help them cultivate a willingness to make a difference.

Who can you develop around you? Who are the students who naturally have people follow them? What about the student who just has a great heart and needs some guidance?

Leadership is not reserved for a select group of chosen people. If that were the case, I would never have qualified.

Instead, everyone has leadership influence. My goal, and I’m guessing yours, too, is to teach anyone who is willing how to make the most of their opportunities.

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