Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category
I’m reading Seth Godin’s newest book called “Linchpin.” The book is all about helping you realize your own unique potential and encouraging you to be remarkable, to be indespensible, to be a Linchpin.
I’d love to share a line from the book and talk a little bit about why so many of us settle for being mediocre instead of remarkable.
If you’re insecure, the obvious response to my call to become a Linchpin is, “I’m not good enough at anything to be indispensable.” The typical indoctrinated response is that great work and great art and remarkable output are the domain of someone else.
This line really spoke to me since it’s something I’ve been saying for years now. What is keeping you from being remarkable? Most likely it is your own insecurity holding you back. It is your own self-doubt, those lies we hear telling us we’re not good, or we have nothing to offer that really keep us from our greatest potential.
Godin goes on to say that,
I’ve been lucky enough to meet or work with thousands of remarkable linchpins. It appears to me that the only way they differ from a mediocre rule-follower is that they never bought into this self-limiting line of thought.
Is that what separates you from being remarkable? Your own self-limiting line of thought? You are a gifted individual who has a divine purpose. The only thing keeping you from fulfilling that purpose is you. Believe in who you are and who God has called you to be and watch as you become remarkable.
Saturday was our one year anniversary. Cody treated me to a day at the spa, some shopping and my favorite: Sushi.
We were seated at a popular Sushi place in downtown Oklahoma City, next to a table with another couple. As we put in our drink order, and waited, and then finally put in our appetizer order, and waited, we noticed our waiter was a little distracted. Amidst our conversation we observed him as he waited on both our table and the one next to us. It was clear the man seated at the table next to us was not a happy customer. More than once he sent something back to the kitchen and even the manager came out and talked to him and his lady mid way through the meal.
First of all, he ordered steak. I mean, you don’t go to a sushi bar and order steak. Who does that? But that’s not what I’m getting at. As we watched this little episode unfold it was apparent that we had been forgotten.
Complainers get more attention.
Now, I’m all for good service, and good food, and I understand if you’re not satisfied with your experience you want someone to know. But from where we were sitting it didn’t seem like this guy was complaining because of the service. That waiter seemed to be at his beck and call. It didn’t look like his food was wrong–unless the steak tasted fishy (it’s a sushi restaurant!) what it looked like to me, was this guy and his lady were complaining just to complain. Every time the waiter would leave their table they would laugh quietly like the waiter was the dumbest guy in the world. This man even went so far to send back a knife that wasn’t to his liking.
Meanwhile, we’re trying to pay the check without a pen, feeling sorry for our poor waiter the whole time.
Complainers get more attention. Why is that? Why do we allow the naysayers to dictate where we spend our time and energy?
As I thought about this on the way home that night I realize the same is also true in our lives. When we find out someone doesn’t like us, what do we have the tendency to do? Spend the time and energy figuring out why they don’t like us.
I run into this problem a lot working in ministry. If I’m not careful I could spend most of my time with the people who are unhappy about something in the ministry and leave those who would bend over backwards for it in the dark. I learned a leadership principal early on that says to spend 80% of your time with your best players, customers, or volunteers and just 20% of your time with the complainers.
This might be a good concept for people waiting tables. After all, those complainers aren’t going to leave a good tip anyway. And if you leave your other customers to fend for themselves, they won’t either.
In the end, no matter how hard you spin your wheels to try to win over the complainers, while leaving your fans in the dust, you may never get there, and then you’ve lost both.
I wrote a post a couple weeks ago called “Development–The Fine Art of Telling People They Suck.” Then a friend of mine, @jeremydbaldwin, asked if I would write a follow up post about what to do if you are on the receiving end of that development. I thought it was a great idea so I bring you this:
What to do when You’re Told “You Suck”
Now, that’s putting it pretty harsh. I hope the people around you who are developing you are a little more tactful than that, but even if they’re not, having constructive criticism is an important part of our development.
I read somewhere that feedback is the number one motivator of people. Without feedback how do we expect to get better at anything? I’m pretty passionate about development, not only helping others develop but making sure I’m getting developed as well, so since Jeremy has been on the receiving end of some of my development, and because I’m always looking to be on the receiving end of development, I’d like to bring you 3 things to always do when you’re told “You Suck.”
1. Put Your Pride to Bed. Let’s be honest, we all need improvement. None of us are perfect at what we do, and if you think you are, you need more development than you think. Lay down the pride and ask a few trusted people to speak honestly into your life. Make sure you have people around you who will develop you. If you want to develop in a certain area, ask them to observe you in this specific area and then give you feedback.
2. Listen. Now, it’s also important that you listen to the feedback they give you. The quickest way to go no where is to do nothing with the constructive criticism that is given to you.
3. Don’t Take it Personal. Actually, take it as a compliment. If someone is giving you feedback it means they believe in you. They know you can be better and they are willing to spend time and energy investing in you to pull out your full potential. When someone wants to give you feedback, don’t get defensive. It is for your good.
What do you do when you’re told “You Suck”?
When I was younger I told a lie. Ok, so I told lots of lies and most of those lies were told so I wouldn’t get into trouble. The problem was, every lie I told got me into deeper trouble when the lie was found out. Because the lie is always found out. The truth always has a way of surfacing given enough time.
You know that feeling you have when you tell a lie? It’s almost as if you float out of your body and watch yourself. You get this quick sweaty feeling all over your body and your heart rate picks up a few notches. You wait, holding your breath to see if the lie was a success and when you realize it was, you want to let out that breath, but can’t. You end up holding that breath for weeks, maybe years, you hold it for as long as the lie lasts because you know at any moment it could be found out and then it would all be over.
I remember the way it feels when you finally decided to tell the truth. You let that breath go and this enormous weight lifts off your shoulders. You realize life on the right side of truth isn’t so bad and you ask yourself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
The truth is always the best rout to take. Even if you think a lie will save you from trouble or embarrassment, imagine the trouble or embarrassment you’ll have to face when that lie is found out. Because the lie is always found out. The truth always has a way of surfacing given enough time.
Please, tell the truth. It’s the right thing to do.
Last night I was sitting on the couch, not wanting to do anything. I could have been reading, but didn’t feel like I had the energy to pay attention. I could have been writing, but new I couldn’t focus long enough to get out a sentence. I was always taught to do something “constructive” you know, something that used the mind, but all I wanted to do was sit in front of the TV and veg.
As I was sitting there I remembered something I learned as a student. Someone once showed me something amazing–something I had forgotten until that moment.
This influential person told me that the world had tricked us. He said the things the world sells us, and the things we think are fun are acutally only robbing us of our potential, robbing us of using our minds for greatness. I asked him what he meant and he showed me.
“Take the word amuse, for example. Off the top of your head, what do you think that word means? What comes to mind when you hear it?
“Amuse means something is funny. I think of amusement parks and fun things to do…”
“You’re right. The word amuse brings about positive feelings of fun, laughter and being carefree. But don’t let it fool you. Take the letter ‘A’ away from the word and you get: Muse–which means to think or meditate quietly. Putting that A in front of the word defines the word to mean the exact oposite–Amuse–to divert the mind to something entertaining. In effect, to allow the mind a break from thinking.
“Now, don’t get me wrong,” he continued. ”A little amusement is good for everyone, so long as you continue to use your mind, grow it, challenge it and expand it more than you let it go.”
Often times I fight against the urge to let my mind go instead of using it to bring about positive outcomes. I don’t want to be unaware of the worlds tricks. That’s why I’m adopting the phrase: Muse before you Amuse. Before you sit down in front of the TV, do something that uses your mind: Read a few chapters in a book, make something creative, organize something in your house, write a blog. Use your mind more than you let it go. It’s time to do something constructive.
Muse before you Amuse.
I work in an environment of development. What does that mean? It means that almost every conversation that goes on is about how to be better. How to be a better pastor, a better communicator, a better organizer, a better connector. How do we make our teams better? How can we do what we did last year better? It is a constant thought and something that really propels the ministry forward.
The hard part is when it comes to development of people. As leaders, developing people is a fine line one must walk across. I have been in dozens of conversations surrounding the “development” of another individual.
“If they would just not do this, then…”
“If they knew how they were around people, don’t you think they’d…”
“That person… they have no clue.”
But in the back of my mind I can’t help but think: If we are leading these people should’ve we give them a clue? If I was the individual, and my leader knew something that could help me, I would want to know, wouldn’t you? I mean, if it’s our job as leaders to develop and help others become better as we allow others to help us become better, shouldn’t we be saying something? Should we, in love, be bringing some kind of self-awareness to certain individuals who display a lack of development? This is tough. I mean, you can’t just walk up to someone and point out their flaws.
I’ve observed both the positive and negative outcomes of this fine art of development and have come to understand at least two things. When you’re in a position to bring about development in someone you must first:
- Establish a trusting relationship with that person. Your title alone will not help you in the tediousness of the conversation. You must build a healthy, trusting relationship before you have the permission to say anything.
The second observation I’ve made is that:
- It takes time. Don’t expect to see a change in someone over night. When you bring awareness to someone it will take time for it to fully take root. Development is an oven not a microwave.
Above all, I have understood that you can’t really develop someone unless they WANT to be developed. They have to possess a teachable heart and a willingness to learn. They have to be willing to lay down their pride and admit they don’t know everything.
What a better place to find those traits in practice, than in the people who lead them.
- Social Awareness
- Relationship Management
The top two skills, Self-Awareness and Self-Management, are more about you. The bottom two skills, are more about how you are with other people.
Today, let’s look at the top skill: Self-Awareness.
Self-Awareness, simply put, is the art of knowing yourself as you really are. It is more than just knowing if you like oranges over apples or telling people that you’re a morning person instead of a night owl. Getting to know yourself inside and out is a continuous journey of peeling back the layers of the onion and becoming more and more comfortable with what is in the middle–the true essence of you.
I can’t tell you how vital self-awareness is for our lives. It is the skill that supports the other three skills of emotional intelligence. It is also very important because without self-awareness overcoming insecurities would be nearly impossible. Do you know yourself? Do you know what type of personality you have? Your strengths? Your weaknesses? Gifts or talents? Do you know your insecurities or the truth on how to fight them?
I learned at an early age the importance of knowing myself. As a high school student I was given many opportunities to take personality tests, spiritual gifts assessments and strengths finder tests. Not that these tests were the end all of my self-awareness, but they catapulted me into a world where self-awareness became a high priority in my life. I began to live by the truth that “if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know how to improve.”
So let me ask you a question: Do you know where you are? Have you mastered the art of knowing yourself? Here are a few suggestions on how to gain more self-awareness.
- Pray and ask God to show you who you are
- Take a trusted personality test–not the ones you find on MySpace and Facebook! Take a Myers-Brigg or something comparable to find out how you are uniquely wired.
- Take a spiritual gifts test.
- Buy the book Strengths Finder by Tom Rath. Read it and take the test in the back.
- Ask a trusted friend or mentor to enlighten you on how you’re perceived by others.
- (You can contact me for any of these testing materials by sending me an e-mail.)
Self-Awareness is the starting point to improve our emotional intelligence. I recommend picking up your own copy of the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and start your journey.
Naturally, I am a feeler. Meaning, I base most, if not all, my decisions on how I feel about them and how they might effect others. The opposite side of the spectrum would be the thinkers. Those who base their decisions on logical thought, often taking emotions out of the process.
Both are valuable. Both have their faults. So let me tell you about the fault of the feeler. Basing my decisions on how I feel about them has brought some challenges to my world. For example:
- If I don’t feel like working out, chances are I’m not going to work out, because my feelings won out.
- If I don’t feel like writing a blog, I usually don’t do it because my feelings got the better of my decision making.
Most of the time, when I’m not actively doing something, I let my mind wander. But I’m not thinking. I’m feeling. As a feeler most, if not all, of my life sifts through the filter called: feelings. This is not a bad thing, necessarily, unless it keeps you from doing the things you know you need to do.
Recently, I asked a trusted friend, boss and mentor to teach me how to think. Being a natural thinker, he thought the request was interesting. He encouraged me to do a few things which have already helped me take back the control of my feelings instead of my feelings controlling me.
- Start a Thought Journal–I used to journal all the time. But my entries were all about what happened that day and how I felt about them. He encouraged me to start a thought journal instead of a feeling journal. In this journal I write down things I’m thinking, things I need to do, goals I want I’m going to reach.
- Think!–You can’t have a thought journal without actual thoughts coming out of your brain. He encouraged me to start thinking. This takes some intentionality since I am not naturally prone to thinking. So when I’m in my car, or find myself with some free time, I make myself think: What do I want to accomplish? What lessons have I learned today? What ideas do I need to expound upon to make them a reality?
- Plan in Quarters–Businesses plan their budgets in quarters: three month chunks four times a year. Why not take this model and apply it to ourselves? We talked about the goals I wanted to accomplish this quarter (the end of June.) Once I accomplish them I will move on to the next quarter. Picking one or two things to focus on in a shorter amount of time helps me not become overwhelmed with all I want to do.
What about you? Are you a Natural Thinker or Feeler? What are the pros or cons of being one or the other?
Working in youth ministry gives me many opportunities to learn and grow. One of the areas I’m growing in right now is finding the balance between being a friend and a leader.
I work with several adult volunteers who, over the course of the three years we’ve been doing ministry, I’ve developed strong ties of friendship. I think relational leadership it is a great way to lead, and probably the way I lead the best. But when problems arise it can be difficult to know which side of the fence to lead from: Friend or leader?
Inevitably, in leadership, you’re not going to make everyone happy. (I’m learning this too, but that is a whole notha blog post). When it’s your friends in the ministry who become unhappy about certain things it can be hard not to take their complaints personally. It can be a challenge to not allow their opinions of you to dictate how you lead and what decisions you make.
There have been several instances in my three years of ministry where I have had to figure out this balance between friend and leader. Here are a few things I’ve done to help me along the way:
- Always check–Anytime someone brings a complaint about how I am leading, I always check myself through prayer to see if their complaint has any truth. If it does, I try to reconcile things with the person. If it doesn’t, I continue to stand firm in my decisions knowing my ultimate goal is not to make other happy, but to please God.
- Seek Counsel--I am surrounded by leaders who are far better and far wiser than I am. Their guidance in areas like this have helped me tremendously along the way.
- Don’t take it personal–The ministry is not about me anyways. I’m simply a steward of what God has given me. When complaints or frustrations with volunteers arise I take my emotions out of the equation and try to lead from an objective mindset. (Ok, so I try to take my emotions out of the equation. Like I said, I’m still learning!)
- Know who you are–This one is so important. If I don’t know who I am or have a firm grasp on why I’m doing what I’m doing, it would be very easy for me to wither under the scrutiny of of what others think. I’ll say it again, I’m not here to make others happy, I’m here to serve, honor and obey God, and only Him.
Maybe you have had similar experiences. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
What do you think, Friend or Leader?
Our staff is currently reading the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0. This book helps us understand emotions in ourselves and in others and offers tools on how to manage behaviors and relationships. This is an important concept since we are all creatures of emotion and we interact daily with other creatures of emotion. This book offers enlightenment and strategies for improvement in these four areas:
Self-Awareness–to know yourself as you really are.
Self-Management–your ability to use awareness of your emotions to actively choose what you say and do.
Social Awareness–a skill used to recognize and understand the moods of other individuals and entire groups of people.
Relationship Management–The ability to make your relationships work.
As I make it through the book I’ll share some insights and nuggets, but I highly recommend the book to everyone. Each book comes with a unique code in the back so you can take a test to gauge your personal emotional intelligence.