Do You Ever Forget Things?

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Sometimes I forget. During the 2020 calendar year, I’ve been working with a group of students to help them grow as leaders.

One of my favorite things to do to help students grow is to evaluate regularly. We do this a couple of ways, one of which is having a quick follow up meeting after our midweek program.

We had a workshop back in September, and ever since, I would start our meetings by asking how they made the room better. And the answers I was getting were not what I was hoping.

Don’t get me wrong, they were trying to make a difference, I was just asking a bad question. A question that put them on a path other than I wanted them to evaluate.

Then it hit me: what if there were some questions I could teach them to ask and answer each week? Questions that would almost instinctually walk them through what it looks like to be a leader?

Oh. I have those. And I’ve trained them on those. But I stopped at the training. And that was my first mistake.

The 3 questions are a great training piece. They are remarkable to consider. But their true worth isn’t in the theory or intellect behind them. The power of the 3 questions is when they are put into practice.

So I made a change. I started asking how they answered the 3 questions because I want them to start to ingrain those questions into their minds and let them become who they are and what they do. Not because I developed the questions, but because I think the power they provide to influence a room is remarkable.

Sometimes, the tools we need are at our disposal. It’s just a matter of not forgetting.

Let me challenge you today, point blank. If you lead a group of people: teach them the 3 questions and then hold them accountable to answer them on a regular basis. No shame. No guilt. Only accountability to make a difference around them. Then, let me know how it goes!

Well, This is a First

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A few months back a friend of mine started a podcast called “2 Dads 1 Mind“. They are now in their second season, and as part of their 2nd season, they chose to interview different people. Today, they scraped the bottom of the barrel and are airing an interview they did with me.

I’m joking. I was very honored they asked me to join them, and I had so much fun sharing my heart for leadership and parenting with them.

I’ve embedded the podcast below, but let me encourage you to go check them out (& subscribe) on your podcast player (Apple, Spotify, Google, etc), or click here to see their show page. I really enjoy their format, and their chemistry together is solid.

I hope you enjoy the episode!

4 Hacks to Put 3QL In Practice

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On Tuesday, I reflected pretty specifically on the first of the three leadership questions I teach to those around me. You can go here to read it.

Today, let’s focus on the third question. (Go here if you need a refresher on the three questions.)

Once we nail down what needs to be done, and are able to determine our willingness to accomplish that task moving forward, we are faced with the third question, the question of leadership: Who am I going to invite/include/empower/equip/enable to help me meet the need?

I’ve been teaching and asking myself the three questions since before starting this blog, and one of the areas where I need help is actual implementation. So yesterday, I started developing a worksheet to help me make progress as I strive to expand my own personal leadership influence.

Here are the questions I asked myself:

  1. What area needs to grow? This is key because I’m asking myself the awareness question from a different perspective. No longer is it simply about accomplish a task, now the question becomes what am I doing already that can be done better.
  2. How am I doing at it? Are you good at being honest with yourself? Go ahead, ask this about an area where you know you’re weak, or even where you think you’re strong. Either way, I’m going to guess the answer won’t be a 10/10. But again, evaluate and let this response determine the urgency in the next two questions.
  3. Who can I ask to help? List out names. Specific names. Even names you wouldn’t have considered before the exercise. These are people you’re willing to go to and ask for help in this specific area, but don’t let it be the same people every time.
  4. By When? What’s your timeline. I did this yesterday, and one of them was a more immediate timeline–even beginning next month. The other, I set a goal for next year. There was freedom in both. There was freedom in simply listing a time line. The third question is no longer ambiguous.

There are a couple extra questions I added along the way, but you’ll want to make sure you’re signed up to receive the 3QL emails, as I’ll be sending it to specifically to subscribers once it’s been polished.

At the end of the day, though, leadership is only leadership if we are leading people. To quote John Maxwell, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” What specific steps are you taking today to grow your leadership influence? Spend some time working through the questions above.

We All Need a Little Reminder

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Have you ever wondered how people used to make maps of shorelines? Seriously, was it a boat and a compass? Then, with the ability to take pictures from miles above, was there ever a shore line that was just wrong until we had the right perspective?

And so went my random thoughts this morning. Do you ever find yourself dreaming solutions about things you have zero experience with? I’ve never mapped out a coast line in my life.

Sometimes those distractions keep us from focusing on what requires focus in front of us. Sometimes we need a reminder of the foundational things in life.

It’s been a while since I talked about the three questions (you can read all about them here), so instead of trying to figure out how to map a coastline, let’s revisit the name sake of this blog.

I love the simplicity of the three questions. Teaching students (or adults) to embrace awareness-willingness-leadership as an approach to influencing situations around them opens the door for possibility.

This past weekend I taught the three questions to a group of student leaders and made a statement I hadn’t made before. I learned early on that not everyone naturally sees the need in a room (awareness). Some people, even if they have good hearts, are missing the natural ability. So, my challenge to them? Stick close to someone who naturally asks the first question.

This makes sense, right? If I’m trying to watch what I eat in order to lose weight, it’s easier for me to make good choices if I’m with someone else who is trying to do the same thing. My healthy eating decisions get more difficult, however, when I’m around people who are less than intentional.

The same is true for us as leaders. If you have a hard time simply acknowledging the need of the moment, find someone who handles it naturally and allow them to help train your mind to observe.

At the end of the day, it’s very difficult to influence change and raise up other leaders if we are unable to acknowledge what needs to be done around us. Spend some time today honing your awareness.

2 Ingredients for a Great Leader

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I’ve never done this before. What follows is a post I wrote in November of 2018. The last three weeks, these words have been on my mind almost continually, so I thought I would share them again. I hope they challenge you.

Have you ever noticed some people look at situations differently than you?

A few years ago, I heard a radio personality talk about how science has proven women and men look at cleanliness differently. Women actually see dirt more easily than men. It’s not that they have some sort of super vision, but their awareness of filth is higher. This means as a husband, I need to adjust my standards of clean in order to be a blessing to my wife.

This happens in developing student leaders as well. So many times, as youth ministers, we fall into the trap of thinking a student has to meet a certain level of leadership ability in order to take on the mantle. But I would disagree.

In fact, as I have been working with student leaders more intensely over the past 3 years, I have noticed 2 criteria which are critical to developing successful student leaders.

1. OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE

I cannot think of a single situation where anyone has led without first making the most of an opportunity. In fact, without opportunity, nothing happens. Where there is no opportunity, there is no movement.

Opportunities are simple, but it may require you changing how you view situations. The old saying goes “If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” While the intent behind the saying may be negative, the truth is opportunity opens up when we shift our perception.

Every time you meet with students, there is an opportunity for leadership. My question for you is: are you making the most of the opportunities around you to allow students to grow and develop as leaders.

2. WILLINGNESS TO SERVE

The other part of developing student leaders, and the most critical, is willingness. If a student is not willing to take intentional steps, any effort you exert will be diminished.

A student’s willingness to serve is imperative to their own development. But if you think about it, this concept is a no brainer.

As an adult, if you need to lose weight or cut back on salt, no one else can make that decision for you. It’s a decision you have to make. The people around you can provide opportunities, but it is up to you to make the most of the opportunities.

Students who are willing to serve, are more likely to grow as leaders. Students who are unwilling to serve will hit a ceiling of their own making.

The bottom line is this: if you can find a student who is willing to serve, give them an opportunity to serve and lead, and watch the impact they begin to make!

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