Perspective Comes with Time

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One of my favorite preaching/teaching series I do is on the life of Joseph from the book of Genesis. Time after time it seems like everyone is out to get him, but the picture we see is a man of incredible faith and consistency. The point I try to drive home each time is that we cannot see the end from the middle.

Looking back allows us to make sense of what we’ve gone through. The stock market illustrates this. Stock brokers spend their entire lives evaluating what the market has done in order to help them determine what it may do next. But, regardless of what they may say, no one can tell you if today is a high or a low until they see what tomorrow does.

Our lives, and leadership, are like this. It is incredibly difficult to tell if the situation we are facing right now is a high, a low, or just something in between. Until we gain perspective.

That’s why I’m fascinated by the way perspective impacts leadership. The way we view a situation, or challenge, or opportunity, determines how we respond. We may not ever be able to know in the moment where we are in the grand scheme of things, but we can know our call is consistent–to lead.

In my new position (I haven’t been here a year yet, so I can still say new), I’m not making changes to impact tomorrow, but to help build a thriving culture three years down the road. It’s hard to know what to emphasize and brush off in the mean time. At the end of the day, however, when I embrace that I’m serving for the long haul, those day to day hills and valleys only provide further perspective.

So, what about you? What perspective do you need today? Take time to look back and acknowledge what you’ve gone through to help you move forward.

Simple Shifts

Simple Shifts

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Since I started writing here two years ago, I have always moved back and forth in content from personal observations about leadership to lessons I was learning while trying to teach the three questions to a group of students to lessons about leadership I was learning (or struggling to learn) about my own influence.

The next few weeks I am going to toy with a little more structure to that. Tuesday posts are going to be more about personal leadership development, whereas Thursdays will center on reflections on leadership conversations I’ve been having as I try to increase those conversations in my current context. In addition, you’ll also get a Flashback Friday, where I share a post from deep in the 3QL archives. Spoiler alert: my early writing was probably my best, so don’t skimp on the flashbacks.

So, onward we go.

What I’m going to say is hardly revolutionary, but it’s something I’ve had to learn. I retain better when I read.

Part of my startup to the day routine (inspired by Michael Hyatt) for the past 6-7 months has been to watch a leadership video of some sort from RightNow Media. The majority of the videos have been of John Maxwell sharing insights.

The challenge? I can “multi-task” while the video is playing. Sure, occasionally I would pull out my journal and jot down thoughts or responses to what was covered, but for the most part, the videos ended up being background noise.

The past two weeks, however, I’ve replaced that video with reading. I’m not spending a significant chunk of time on reading, but just making myself pause to read produces a different result.

I can’t be looking at the calendar while I’m reading. I can’t start checking email while I’m reading. I can’t start piddling with whatever is on my computer screen while I’m reading.

The simple act of picking up a book helps me zero in on my purpose for that time. And guess what? The quality of that start to my day has increased by a multiple of ten.

There is something you’re doing right now to help you grow, that really isn’t helping you grow. It may be from the right place and with the right intention, but you and I both know it’s not helpful.

Change it.

If you’re serious about expanding your leadership influence, do not settle for something that doesn’t help you move forward.

For me, the shift has been actually reading instead of a video. For you, that shift may be something different – a leadership podcast instead of music on your way to work, or a weekly phone call with someone who pushes you and challenges you to be better.

Whatever it is for you, make the shift today.

Having a Plan

Having a Plan

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What are you doing to develop your personal leadership?

I ask this question from time to time, and if you’re reading this, then I hope you would include this blog as part of it.

But what else are you doing?

Do you read books on leadership? TED talks? Audiobooks? Podcasts? Are you in a network of other leaders who help you wrestle with ideas?

What we do to grow our leadership influence is both a variable (what we do) and a constant (grow our leadership influence). But it rarely happens on accident. Intentionality paves the way for progress.

If you want to expand your leadership influence, it starts with intentionality. Commit to growing. Make sacrifices for the sake of growth.

Reading, for me, is a sacrifice. I have a solid routine, but regular reading is not part of that routine. That’s why I set a goal of reading a certain number of books the past few years (and increased my number this year). I want reading to be a central part of who I am, because it opens my mind to things I don’t get from old episodes of Psych. So, I’m finding ways to work reading into my routines.

So, once again, what are you doing to develop your personal leadership?

Take some time today to work through this. Make a decision about what you’re going to do, and then stick with it.

Maybe you’re going to read one leadership book each month.

Or listen to one leadership podcast a week.

Or start your day with a leadership thought.

Or watch a leadership video from YouTube or RightNow media.

Or choose to not do anything. But that’s not you. You want to grow.

In the meantime, I know you’ll hang around, and we will continue to grow together. Thanks for being here, now let’s expand our leadership influence.

2019 by the numbers

2019 By the Numbers

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Well, we are wrapping up 2019, and I wanted to spend today hitting some of the 3QL highlights. I’ve gone through three pretty significant changes in my life this year: losing my Father-in-law, moving (& starting a new job), having my first born transition into youth ministry, and losing my Father-in-law’s father.

Life has a natural ebb and flow to it, but it’s interesting to look back over the past year and reflect on the ebbs and flows. So, here are the highest clicked posts for each month. Read through the list, and if you see one you that peaks your interest, check it out!

January – It’s All About Perspective

February – Support Counts (This was the most viewed for 2019); Grief and Joy was a reflection on the passing of my Father-in-Law.

March – How the Day Ends was written in the middle of my move from Bronte to Kerrville

April – Lessons from the Farm: Dirty Hands was the highest viewed of my third Lessons from the Farm installment.

May – Defining Small Town & Leadership

June – Communicating Expectations is one of the things I personally return to most often in leadership

July – Mindset Makes the Difference (followed closely by Lessons from the Farm: The Right Tool)

August – The Father-Leader Paradox, which actually posted the end of July, so August’s new post high was Naming Leadership.

September – We had a low month and three posts tied, but my favorite of the three was Getting Corrective Lenses. You can read the other two here and here.

October – We All Need to be Reminded

November – Powerful Leadership

December – Leaders Show Up (which originally posted in November), so the most viewed December post to date was Mastering the Ask.

Closing thoughts: My favorite post of the year is one that, very recently, has popped back up and served to remind me of a key weakness in myself — Mistakes mean growth.

If you’ve stuck with me for the full year, you’ve undoubtedly noticed a shift. I’m not posting about developing student leaders as much as I did in 2017 and 2018. Part of that has been a natural by product of the shift I’ve gone through. As I started a new position, I’ve spent more time trying to develop adults and grow myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t have students who are leading, or that I’m not investing in students, it just means when I’ve sat down most mornings my thoughts have been on how I’m growing.

I believe with all I am that if I don’t grow as a leader, I cannot help those around me grow. This blog has been a great place for me to process the changes I’m experiencing. With the exception of November, I’ve remained extremely consistent to sit down and share my thoughts, and plan to continue that for 2020.

I do, however, think in 2020 we will slowly start to shift back to posts about developing students. I’m hoping to introduce some student leadership elements into our vision and programming, and it’s going to be interesting to adapt what I’ve known for a new context.

Thank You so much for joining me through this journey, and if it’s been a while, be sure to refresh on the 3 questions. Amazing things happen when we empower those around us to not only lead, but grow in their influence. That’s why I’m here, and I hope that’s why you’re here as well.

Also, if you aren’t already, be sure to subscribe to get 3QL posts in your inbox. On Friday I’m sending out an evaluation tool to email subscribers to help you reflect on 2019 and to make 2020 the best yet!

Preparing, But First

Preparing, But First

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The closer we get to the new year, the more excited I get about picking up some natural momentum. But first things first.

If I want to prepare myself for a great 2020, I first have to pause and evaluate 2019. Last December I wrote a post (you can read it here) that, at the time, I had no idea how beneficial it would be for me.

In it, I outline a way to evaluate the previous year and prepare for the next. I wrote the post, then created a companion worksheet to go with it. I took some time to actually work through the worksheet, and it opened my eyes to some changes I wanted to make, and it really did set me up for an incredible 2019.

I’m not trying to skip Christmas, as I think it’s an incredible season and time of year, but the underlying message of Christmas is the new beginning. It was a new beginning for Joseph and Mary. It was a new beginning for the Shepherds. It was a new beginning for Israel. And each year, Christmas reminds us of the new beginning and new life we have in Christ.

But what are you doing to prepare yourself for 2020? Do you remember your biggest takeaway from 2018? What was a goal you achieved? What was something you accomplished? What if you had a way to make sure in 12 months from today you have a way to answer the same question about 2019?

Next week I am going to spend some time evaluating my 2019–a year of changes, seen and unforeseen. And, if you’re subscribed to get the 3QL blogs in your inbox, I’m going to be sending you the end of year worksheet. So be sure to subscribe, and encourage those around you to do the same.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I’m looking forward to what’s next.

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