Today’s Decisions. Tomorrow’s Direction.

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Have you ever done something you never thought you would do?

For me, it’s running. I used to think people who ran 5K races were crazy. Now, I’m one of the crazies. I’ve run 5Ks (including one during a vacation), 5 mile races, 10Ks and even a half marathon.

Every time I’ve trained for and completed a race, I can look back and see decisions I made along the way that helped me achieve the goal. The most obvious was simply the choice to spend time running instead of doing something else.

Our leadership principle today is a simple one: Today’s decisions. Tomorrow’s direction.

The decisions we make today affect where we will end up tomorrow. For leadership, the implication is rather simple: are you making decisions today that will make you a better leader tomorrow?

Are you reading leadership blogs (like this one), books, and articles? Are you listening to leadership podcasts that will stretch your understanding of what it means to lead? Are you surrounding yourself with people who will help you grow as a leader?

What have you set up in your routine each day that will help you expand your leadership influence? It may be as simple as sending an encouraging text each day, or clicking over to Amazon to find a good book on leadership. Or, maybe it’s adopting the three questions and trying to answer them each day.

Remember: Today’s decisions. Tomorrow’s direction.

The Redundancy of Leadership

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Do you know the hardest part of writing a blog? The consistency of having to write another post. It comes up three times each week, like clockwork.

Ministry is the same. Sunday is always right around the bend (or Wednesday for many youth ministers).

Farming was the same. No matter how many years in a row you planted a seed, the next year it was time to plant it again.

I imagine CPAs have the same feeling. Regardless of how hard you work from January to April 15 one year, the next year you will have to work just as hard.

But in the midst of the mundane, there is beauty. In the midst of the repetition, there is opportunity.

Something a mentor pointed out to me not long ago is what he called the “redundancy of leadership.”

What does that mean? Simple: a major part of leadership is repetition.

Take, for instance, the three questions (you can read about them here). The three questions work great when you use them one time, but they find their greatest impact when they are asked and answered on a regular basis. The more frequently you answer them, the more integral they become to your leadership style and effectiveness.

The problem, however, is when redundancy carries a negative connotation. Who likes getting their teeth cleaned every six months? Or, who enjoys shooting hundreds of free throws? Or, what parent anticipates the excitement of yet another dirty diaper?

The redundancy of leadership means having the same conversation over and over. Sometimes the audience changes, but sometimes the message and audience remain the same.

The redundancy of leadership means yet again casting vision for your organization, even though you did it last week, or last month, or last year, or all of the above.

This week, embrace the redundancy. Find the beauty in the mundane. Excavate the excitement of the repetitive. And, above most other things, hang in there.

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Check it Out: Develop Leaders

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Today’s link back goes to a post talking about the how of developing leaders. Here’s a clip, click here for the rest.

However, knowledge of a subject does not lead to experience in the subject. We cannot neglect real world leading as a teaching tool if we desire to develop leaders.

 

Practicing the 3 Questions

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I had a humbling experience last week. One of my peers in youth ministry, who has been a big supporter of my blog to this point, posted a picture of his computer screen. What made it humbling was the side of his monitor where he had written the 3 questions on a sticky note and left it there as a reminder. (Click here if you’re not sure what the 3 Questions are.)

Then, another peer commented he had them written on his white board, and I was struck by something.

Perception makes all the difference.

I have been using these three questions as a way to equip and encourage student leaders for a little over a year, but how well do I apply them to my own life?

If I were going to be honest with you (and why wouldn’t I?), I wrestle with the exact same part of the three questions as most of my students: the third question.

I’m a wonderful analyzer, and I have a stubborn streak that tends to say “I’ll do this myself”, but I fail time and time again at asking and answering the third question.

But if I’m serious about growing my own leadership influence, I have to start somewhere.

And one thing I know, when I do ask and answer the third question, I love to watch what happens. I love seeing people find a spot to serve. I love equipping others to step up and meet needs.

Ultimately, the three questions are what we use them to be. We can train student leaders, or adults. But, most importantly, we can use them to grow as leaders ourselves.

Look for ways to answer the three questions in your personal life today.

Take Time to Say Thank You

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How are you on a scale of 1 to 10 on showing gratitude to others? Go ahead, give yourself a number. 1 would be “why would I be grateful to those losers” and 10 would be “I’m so grateful, I’ve built a Hall of Fame for other people to show my gratitude.”

Now, take a minute and think about how you’ve shown gratitude to those leaders around you who have poured into you to make you better. When was the last time you connected just to say “thank you”?

Part of leadership is recognizing where we’ve come from and the people who have helped us along the way.

I think about a few key men in my life who have helped shape me over the years, one especially being my father. I wouldn’t be who I am, or be able to do what I do if it weren’t for his support throughout my life. His model of what it takes to work hard, to think outside the box, and to succeed has meant the world to me.

You have someone like that. Tell them thank you today.

But before you do, let me flip this around.

Have you ever led someone who you feel is destined to do great things? You know, as strange as this may sound, I have a few people in my life who I have led and helped grow that I am proud to say I helped them become who they are (even though the “help” I offered was minimal).

There are a few students I have had over the years who bring a smile to my face when I get to reconnect. And to them, I am grateful for the time they allowed me to pour into them, for the mistakes I made and they forgave me for, and for their continued excitement and encouragement.

So, take some time after you share your gratitude with one of the people who poured into you, and say thank you to someone who has allowed you to speak into their lives over the years.

Leadership doesn’t stop when your paths split along the way.

Find a way to connect today, and celebrate the leadership journey.

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