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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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?

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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Mistakes Make Us Who We Are

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In High School I judged Dairy Products for our FFA chapter. If you’ve seen Napoleon Dynamite, it was not quite that awkward, but it was close.

I will never forget the hardest lesson I learned from judging Dairy Products: never second guess my first reaction.

This lesson was learned when I thought I had completed a perfect score (something very few people are able to do), but had at the last moment second guessed myself, and lost my perfect score. It was a silly mistake, but…

Mistakes make us who we are.

I judged dairy products for 4 years, and learning from that one mistake made all the difference in the world. I learned to trust myself and my first reaction. I learned to not overthink a situation, and I was better for it.

So, mistakes make us who we are.

Now, as much as I would like to claim otherwise, I have made more mistakes in the time since my days as a “milk spitter”. I am still making mistakes. Most of the lessons on this blog have to do with mistakes I’ve made over the years. But making mistakes is not the point.

Learn from your mistakes. What missteps have you made in the past month? What can you learn from those shortcomings? What can you change as a result?

Making mistakes is human. Learning from mistakes is what sets leaders apart.

You’re going to make mistakes. Let them shape you into a better person.

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