The Tension of the 3rd Question

Share this:
Share

Last week I went to camp. One of my roles at camp was to teach leadership to a group of 12 students. What I did not anticipate, however, was the leadership challenge I was going to face in the process.

The kids were great. They were willing to step up and serve, they had humble spirits that were willing to learn, and they poured back into their own groups to make a difference.

The challenge was on my end. I had two roles while at camp: leadership and sound booth. There were certain times in the schedule where the two overlapped, and so I was faced with the tension of the 3rd question: both things need to happen, but I cannot accomplish both at the same time.

(Side note: If you do not know the 3 Questions, click here to read about them. The 3rd question asks “Who can I get to help?”)

The tension of the 3rd question boils down to this: asking other people to help actually helps us accomplish more. Revolutionary, right? Maybe not. In fact, this concept is completely logical. It makes perfect sense that the more people we ask to do something, the more we can get done.

The tension, then, comes when we as leaders would rather do something on our own for any number of reasons. Maybe there’s a certain level of glory in being in charge of something, or we enjoy accomplishing the task. But at the end of the day, if we want to lead, we have to answer the 3rd question.

So, today, what are you holding onto that you can let go? What is on your plate that overwhelms you, but you are afraid to ask for help? What can you ask someone to help with in order to create some forward momentum? Answer the third question this week and see what happens.

 

Leadership and Yard Work

Share this:
Share

Yesterday was a milestone for me as a father. I have a busy week this week, so I took some time yesterday morning to mow my yard. This time around, however, was different. I had a helper.

My 10 year old, earlier this summer, went through Papa and Mimi Lawnmower training. So, naturally, as I prepared to mow yesterday, I recruited her to help. She was scared to try a bigger mower, so I had her edge until I got to one spot we agreed would be her spot.

Now, having grown up on the farm, I remember how this works on tractors. My dad would make the first round, then put me on the tractor to finish the rest. So I did the same.

I made the first round and it was ready for Anna. So, I called her over, had her sit down on the mower, and gave her the orientation. Throttle. Mower blades. Forward. Reverse. Brake. She was ready.

I stepped back and was ready to gloat at my incredible lawn mowing daughter. Then she took off. The first 5 seconds were magical, then I realized she couldn’t see where I had gone the first time.

She turned way too early. Skipped a mower width away from my initial cut, and consistently turned short, leaving skips on the ends.

Strangely enough, at this point I was not upset or angered. I only chuckled to myself and called her over. I pointed out where she missed, gave her some tips, and sent her on her way again, still watching.

Can you guess what happened next? She still made mistakes. So, I called her over and showed her a trick that I learned decades ago, and let her go at it again.

The leadership principle here? When we let someone do something new, we have to remember they don’t have the experience or judgment we have at the moment. Actually, we would do well to remind ourselves of the mistakes we made when we first started.

But, if you want to expand your leadership influence, you are going to have to fight the battle between “I can do better myself” and “I do not have time to do this.”

My daughter is years away from being a professional yard care expert, but this summer she has had a great start.

Everyone has to start somewhere. The question becomes, are we going to give them their start or not?

Have Difficult Conversations

Share this:
Share

This past weekend I was reminded of a principle I blogged about early on. (Click here if you want to read my original post on this topic.)

As leaders we all have to make unpopular decisions. We know they’re unpopular when we make them, so the result is the temptation to avoid conversations surrounding them.

Or, maybe you have had to correct someone. You dread the meeting, so you find reasons to put it off.

These conversations are the dentist office visit of leadership. We know we should go to the dentist, but we just do not want to. Have you had situations that can relate to this idea?

Or, maybe you make a decision that is in the best interest of your organization, but you worry some people are going to give push back, so you try to find a way to minimize their reaction.

In seminary I took a class on Crisis Preaching. One of the principles we were taught was to “name the monster” when a terrible situation arose. The idea is everyone in the room, or almost everyone, knows what you are hinting at when you hint at something, so why not just come out and say it to make sure everyone is able to move forward?

Having tough conversations is the same thing. I’m not advocating seeking drama, but I am advocating talking openly so as to minimize fallout. When we address what needs to be addressed, we allow healing to become part of the process.

What situation are you currently in that could benefit from having a tough conversation? Have you made the statement recently “I really don’t want to talk to…”? If so, that’s probably a sign that you need to have the conversation.

Don’t hide from tough conversations. Don’t send a text when a phone call is what is needed. Be a leader and have the conversation no one else wants to have.

Calling vs Job

Share this:
Share

A few years ago I took a break from full time ministry. During that time, I worked on my dad’s farm and served part time at a church. This week I have been reflecting on one of the conversations I had with my dad toward the end of my time farming.

My wife and I were wrestling with returning to full time ministry. We thought it was maybe time to send our resume out and see what happened.

I remember pulling up to the barn, turning the key off, and sitting in the pickup for the conversation that followed. As I talked with my dad about the transition, he told me “I can tell your heart isn’t in farming. When I was your age I spent spare moments dreaming what I could do to make the farm more successful. You don’t do that.”

My dad wasn’t belittling me, but he was pointing out something he saw in me: Farming wasn’t my calling. Ministry was my calling.

He was right. I didn’t spend my spare moments thinking about the farm. On the contrary, I spent my spare moments thinking about church. Farming was what I did for almost 3 years so I could serve part time at a church. Farming was where my paycheck came from. It was how I provided for my family.

So, what’s the difference between calling and a job? When we find our calling (ministry, farming, teaching, etc.), we are able to throw ourselves into it. We do what we do out of love for the opportunity, because we couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

When we have a job, we leave work and start thinking of something else. That something else is likely your calling, and it’s not limited to ministers and farmers.

I have a friend who over the past few years has worked in the oil field, then as an aviation mechanic. Just recently, however, he seems to have found his calling. Last summer, he finished police academy and has been serving as a police officer ever since. He loves it. He knew his calling for years after finishing the military, and finally got the opportunity to pursue it, and I couldn’t be happier for him.

What’s your calling? Is your current occupation your calling? Or, are you working a job until you can pursue your calling? This isn’t an easy answer, but my hope for you is that you will find the joy of fulfilling your calling.

Where We Are With 3 Questions

Share this:
Share

About 2 years ago I stumbled onto what I consider a pretty simple concept. It actually happened on a Sunday I took off, and was the result of evaluating a story I heard. Kind of crazy how things like that happen.

The bottom line is this: about 2 years ago, the 3 questions were born. This entire blog revolves around these three question, so click here to read a more in-depth explanation. But, as a refresher, the 3 questions are:

  1. What needs to be done?
  2. What can I do?
  3. Who can I get to help?

Today, I thought I would share where I am with these three questions. I have spent the last two years teaching these questions to my student leadership team, taking time after each mid-week program to evaluate how they did at answering the 3 questions. One of the key things I learned this year was the redundancy of asking the 3 questions.

Growing up I ate the same thing for breakfast about 90% of the time. My dad would make a batch of waffles at one time, and I would eat waffles every morning. There’s a rhythm in eating the same thing every day.

There’s also a rhythm in answering the 3 questions. It takes discipline, focus, and a desire to make a difference.

For working with teenagers (and I’m guessing the same would be true for adults), the challenge is finding a way to keep the  3 questions fresh. After all, not everyone wants waffles everyday for breakfast.

So, this summer, on our leadership trip, I plan to sit down with a couple kids and re-evaluate how to implement the 3 questions. Even this is the 3 questions in use (what needs to be done-evaluation, what can I do-evaluate, who can I get to help-student leaders who have put the questions into practice.)

The bottom line is this: when I ask myself (and answer) the 3 questions, my leadership grows. It may not be flashy. It may not be exciting. But I see results. The 3 questions lead to leadership results. But everyone’s context is different.

There’s not much application today other than to say: learn to ask and answer the 3 questions. Your context may be different than mine, but I still believe whole heartedly you can expand your leadership influence when you regularly invite people to help you accomplish what needs to be done.