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/ 

 

Tips from the Bunk: Listen to Those Around You

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I have one simple rule for surviving camp. It’s a personal rule, and not one that I share. It does not affect other people. It does not make me a better leader. Quite the contrary: it’s a survival tip.

So, here’s my survival tip for camp: use the same shower each day and learn which way the knobs turn. Simple enough?

Years ago, early on in my camp ministry, I learned the painful lesson that the hot water doesn’t always turn the same way to shut off. Simply put, I changed showers one day and instead of turning off hot and cold, I turned the cold water off and cranked up the hot, resulting in a scalding.

Last week, my survival tip got put to the test as I took two lukewarm (read: cold) showers, thinking the hot water would kick in eventually. It never did. Until, the teenage boy who was helping me at camp cracked the code: the other knob turned on the hot water. I was convinced hot water was going to flow by turning the cold knob.

I am so grateful for the boy who figured that out, communicated it to me, and blessed my week as a result.

So what’s the leadership lesson? Sometimes, those with less experience have fewer assumptions of superior intelligence.

Here’s a teenage boy who has a fraction of the camp experience I’ve built up over my lifetime, and he had the audacity to try something I had not tried yet. His lack of life experience cannot stand up against my infinite wisdom, right? After all, I have survival tips I live by at camp. He doesn’t have that, so he cannot possibly be as wise as me.

As a leader, fight the temptation to think you have it all figured out, and as long as you stick with your process, it is bound to work. Instead, learn to listen to and trust those around you, especially those who are younger than you.

In the church realm, this may mean including others while re-evaluating a program or event. Other people will look at certain elements through a different lens, and you just might learn something from it along the way.

Arrogance chokes the life out of creativity. Thinking you have every answer negates your long-haul influence.

Who knows, maybe one day you’ll have someone help you learn you don’t have to take a cold shower.

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Leaders Learn, Part 2

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Earlier this week, I blogged about one of the leadership lessons I’ve shared with a group of kids at camp. You can read the initial thoughts here.

The basic idea is as follows: Leaders Learn.

Pretty revolutionary, right? Okay, maybe not, but sometimes necessity breeds simplicity.

If we truly expect to learn as a leader, we have to be willing to change things about ourselves based on what we learn.

This week at camp, as I’m spending time pouring into leaders, I am being forced to evaluate my own leadership learnings. I am being challenged, taught, stretched, and pushed. I am finding areas where I need to work and improve.

Changing things about ourselves does not mean being wishy-washy or insecure. It is recognizing mistakes and make a conscious effort to minimize those mistakes.

If you are constantly late, learn what it takes to show up early (usually a mindset change).

If you are consistently critical, learn how to speak life to those around you.

If you are continuously defensive, learn how to see things from another’s perspective.

As leaders, we can never get to a point where we feel we have it all figured out. I know there are times where I have no clue what I’m doing, or I make silly mistakes. But if I am unwilling to admit my mistakes and embrace the changes that are necessary, then I can never grow as a leader.

The same is true for you. As you lead, whether it be a group, an individual, or anything in between, take time to learn as you lead. Trust me, those who follow you will appreciate the effort, and your willingness to learn and change things about yourself will rub off on those you lead.

Influential Leadership

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As I’ve studied leadership more and more, and as I have tried to become a student of leadership, a few things have stuck with me.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is the foundational definition of leadership comes from John Maxwell: Leadership is Influence. (here’s a blog post from 2005 written by Maxwell that starts with this idea)

In my job, I get to watch as students display influence and leadership over those around them. Many of them do not realize what’s happening, but some of them do.

One of the things I enjoy doing is finding someone who is exhibiting excitement, point in them in the right direction, and let them lead.

One example comes from our Vacation Bible School this week. During the music rotation I noticed a lack of energy coming from my group of students, and the lack of energy negatively influenced the younger kids in the room.

But there was one boy, in particular, who was displaying some excitement. So, I pulled him aside, pointed this older student in the direction of some younger students, and watched as he walked over, stood by, danced by, and after a short while, influenced these younger kids to join him.

Leadership doesn’t always have to be leading organizational change or altering the course of mankind. Sometimes, leadership happens by encouraging the person next to you to dance a little.

We all influence someone. How can you maximize your influence today?

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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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