Check It Out: Be Careful Who Speaks Into Your Life

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Today’s Check It Out post links back to one of my early posts, but one whose content I have been pondering a little extra the past week or so. I hope you enjoy it: http://www.threequestionleadership.com/2017/03/02/be-careful-who-speaks-into-your-life/ 

 

Here We Go Again

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I am once again leading a leadership track at camp this week. I love having the opportunity to pour into students and connect with other youth workers.

So much of what I’m sharing with the students this week comes from ideas I have written about already, but some are lessons I’ve learned along the way that haven’t made an appearance here yet.

Last night, I shared a simple thought: Leaders Learn.

There are a few sides to this thought. First, in order to learn, it helps for a leader to discover things about herself. This may mean discovering gifts, strengths, abilities, passions, or any number of positive attribute. But part of discovery also bleeds into the area of things we would not like to admit.

A leader who cannot find a weakness in himself need only ask those around him for a full report. We all have weaknesses, but we choose whether or not we are open to learning what they are.

So, are you, as a leader, taking time to learn things about yourself? When was the last time you took some time to evaluate?

Second, in order fulfill the Leaders Learn mantra, a leader needs to learn to be honest with himself. Honesty may be one of the most crucial and beneficial pieces of learning. If someone is unwilling to be honest, then everyone around him or her fails.

Honesty, however, comes at a price. We will be unable to be honest with ourselves if we are unwilling to pay the high price of growth.

Are you growing? When was the last time you took time to be honest with yourself?

Ask Questions No One Else is Asking

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I tend to work better on a team. One of the reasons why is because I value being able to discuss a situation–it helps me process better.

Have you ever been in a planning meeting with a group of people about a project, asked a question, and watched as the expressions in the room turn to “why would you ask that?”

Over the past few years, I have found myself in that situation more than I can imagine, but for a good reason: I want to be able to say we thought about that scenario/outcome/solution/possibility.

Asking the question the group assumes has an agreed upon answer, on occasion, will provide some necessary insight and clarity.

For ministry, have we considered the impact this decision will mean for _____?

For business, what happens after we reach our goal of _____?

For entreprenuers, what happens after _____?

I can think of a few times where I have been glad to be the one to ask the silly question, because sometimes the silly question is the very question no one else is willing to ask.

Why are we doing this?

Do we still need this?

What do we hope to achieve or accomplish?

Are we ready for the possible fall out of this particular decision?

Learn to ask questions no one else is asking, and you will start to see your leadership influence shift. If people can count on you to bring value to the table, then they will count on you.

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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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