The Leadership Struggle

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I took a Sunday off last week for the first time in longer than I care to admit. But in so doing, I realized I am not doing a good job of answering the 3rd question (click here to read about the 3 questions–a framework for growing as a leader).

You see, I’m great at understanding what needs to be done and what I can do, but I struggle with inviting others to help along the way.

Thankfully, there were enough people willing to pick up the slack and learn before we left that everything went smoothly (life goes on with or without us!). But, I’m still left with a clear step moving forward: train others. Answer the 3rd question.

I’m actually pretty consistent with asking the 3rd question when it comes to things I struggle with doing, but something I really enjoy, like running the sound board, it’s a lot harder to hand off.

But if I want to allow other people to serve, if I want to develop people who are willing and capable of stepping up, then I have to learn to let go, even of the things I may enjoy doing. Who knows, I may find someone who has more passion than me and can do a better job!

What about you? How are you doing at answering the 3rd question? Are you able to put aside your personal enjoyment for the betterment of other people? What steps do you need to take to let go of something close to you to allow someone else to explore their calling?

Losing Teeth & Growing as a Leader

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Have you ever considered that you are not who you are today without who you were yesterday? Is that confusing enough for you?

Think about it like this: in the last few days, my youngest daughter has lost 2 teeth. This is a normal part of the growth process. Every adult has lost at least one tooth along the way. But, if we didn’t have our baby teeth come in first, those adult teeth would be a killer.

If you’re a parent, think about that for a little while. What if your baby never cut teeth? Then what do you blame the nasty diapers on? Oh, and there’s the whole chewing food thing that becomes essential for health.

So, in order to have our adult teeth come in, we have to have baby teeth come in first. This seems like a simple concept, and it is, but do you think about your leadership the same way?

If you’ve been leading for very long at all, I’m sure you can think of a time where you were cutting your baby teeth. It was undoubtedly a big deal at the time. Then, as you’ve grown, that baby tooth has fallen out and been replaced by another tooth, one that has stood the test of time.

One example would be the foolishness and arrogance of a minister in their early 20s. I knew everything at 23-24. Except, I didn’t. As that baby tooth of confidence (which was important at the time, but eventually taken too far) made the initial cut, it made the way for the adult tooth of realizing I don’t know everything and I need to ask more questions, and always be learning.

What’s your most recent tooth loss? How have you grown in the past few weeks as a leader? Are you willing to grow some more? What tooth do you need to pull?

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Sharpening Your Leadership Sword, pt 2

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On Tuesday, I posted about finding ways to develop your leadership daily and weekly. Today, I’m going to look at something that’s a bit of a long range view: conferences.

Now, to be fair, I’m not a well traveled and varied conference goer. What I do have, however, is my own experience.

There is a conference I go to almost every year hosted by the Baptist General Convention of Texas called Texas Conclave. In relative terms, this is a smaller conference (hundreds, not thousands) that features main room sessions, breakouts, and an exhibit hall.

A few years ago I came to the realization my greatest takeaways from Conclave are usually the relationships–connecting with friends who have moved away, catching up with buddies from college, and meeting new guys who are doing things right in their context.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the main room teaching, and walk away with encouragement and inspiration following most of the breakout sessions I attend, but for me, the value of Conclave is in the relationships.

I have also been able to attend Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit a few times in recent years. I go to a satellite site that is attended by a relatively small number, so I get excellent teaching and lots of relational time.

Are you sensing a theme? I’m fueled by relationships. I love hearing what other people are doing and learning from their passion and heart. I enjoy connecting with friends. This, perhaps more than any conference, is worth it’s weight in gold.

So, how do you sharpen your sword? Know yourself. Find what excites you, and embrace it. Provide yourself with opportunities to build on what motivates you, and watch your leadership grow.

Check It Out: Training with a Purpose

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I’ve been blogging now for 8 months. That’s a lot of posts. But the posts I got the most feedback on were from my “Lessons from the Farm” series where I reflected on leadership learnings I’ve gleaned from my time growing up working on my dad’s farm.

Today’s Check It Out is the first post from that series, and one that I needed reminding of this week: Training with a purpose. Click here to check it out.

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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