The Horizon of Possibility at Work

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Last week we hosted our Summer Camp alternative. At the beginning of June I got word the camp we were going to attend had cancelled, so we started making plans for an alternative. Instead of trying to find a place to go, we decided to try to bring camp to us.

Enter one of my favorite concepts, the Horizon of Possibility.

I was fortunate enough to have a team to help brainstorm and plan the week, and so we set out to make it the best we could. Taking tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way, we took some of the best *scheduled elements of camp (I would happily argue the benefit of camp comes in the unscheduled elements–conversations in the down times specifically) and put them into a day camp format.

We did 3pm to 10pm each day for four days.

We had a good mix of Bible study, rec and celebration, small groups, worship, and a fun activity to end each day.

The best part of the week, however, was watching the responses. The first day was rough, as the first day of camp generally is. But we hit our stride on the second day. Then, the conversations started. We started to hear “this really feels like camp”.

My favorite part may have been on the final day as I taught the Horizon of Possibility to the students who were in our leadership track. When I asked them what their expectations for the week were, they admitted they were low. And rightly so. We weren’t going to camp. It was an adjustment.

But that’s where the Horizon of Possibility enters. As a leader, I was able to look at the horizon and see what was possible. I knew we could never replace camp, but I had a hunch we could create something that would not only be a great event, but it would help fulfill our mission and purpose.

As the leader I was the first one to see the possibility. The challenge from there was including others in the movement forward and pulling it off.

As leaders, we have to be willing to look ahead and examine the horizon. What’s possible? What might could be? What’s holding us back? What are we waiting for?

What possibility are you seeing on the horizon now that no one else can see? What are you willing to do to accomplish it? Who are you going to bring in to help you accomplish it? Take a step today.

Houses But No Doors

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We moved into our house a little over a year ago. Before we moved in, we had some work done-a minor remodel. One change was replacing a bi-fold door into our bedroom with a regular door.

Not long after moving in, one of the hinges developed a creak. Being the farm boy that I am, I grabbed some WD-40 and fixed it right away.

Then, over time, the creak developed again. So I repeated my solution. And it worked, for a little while. But the creak seems to always return.

Then I came to a realization. Sometimes the squeaky door hinge is just a squeaky door hinge. It doesn’t matter how much you do to fix it, eventually you’ll hear it’s whine again.

Leadership is similar. Sometimes the people who complain the loudest about one issue are going to be the ones who complain the loudest about the next issue. We can bend over backwards to try to make them happy on one issue, but the issue isn’t the problem.

So we have to decide: do we live with the creak? Do we ignore the issue, or is there something else we can do?

I don’t have an answer today. I’m sorry. I’m still figuring this out.

But here’s what I know. I’m not going to burn my house down because a door creaks. I’ll address issues that need to be addressed. I’ll ask myself if there are changes I need to make. I’ll make changes I need to make, then I’ll move forward with confidence.

And guess what, the only house that doesn’t have door creaks is a house with no doors. And the only leader who doesn’t hear complaints is a leader who has no one to lead.

Welcome to leading people. You can do this.

Sometimes We’re Wrong

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On occasion, I’ve been accused of having a decent intuition about people. I can think of two people, in particular, where a few years down the road a friend came back and said I was correct in my first impressions. Unfortunately, in both situations, they were negative impressions.

But for every time I’ve been correct, there are plenty examples of when I’ve been wrong.

I’ve invested in a student to train them as a leader, only to watch them drift a couple years down the road.

I’ve encouraged a student because I saw leadership potential, only to realize I was missing a key element.

I’ve done things I thought would be a hit, only to have them fall flat.

I had a conversation recently with someone about an upcoming event. They were expressing concern about the potential turnout. It was a great conversation, and we left it at “it’s okay to try something.”

Then the event happened, and it far exceeded their expectations. They were wrong, and it was energizing.

The same is true for us as leaders. Over time we develop a certain intuition, and if we’re not careful, that intuition can lead us to carrying a jaded mindset. We expect the worst, then we’re not upset by not reaching what we hoped.

But it’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to want more and be disappointed. It’s okay to swing big and miss on occasion. The error comes when the fear of being wrong keeps us from acting or from working as hard as we know we need to work.

What’s holding you back today? Where have you been wrong in the past week? Did it affect your attitude? Were you overly optimistic or overly pessimistic? How can you grow from the experience?

Overcoming the Reflex

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Leadership development is a discipline not a reflex.

This concept has been on my mind a lot over the past month. I’ve served in student ministry for somewhere around 17 or 18 summers, and I’ve never had a summer that felt like this. It seems everything is flipped upside down.

And when we park in chaos, our reflexes take over. We naturally default to the things that come easy to us, or the things in which we find comfort.

Planners find rest in planning.

Creative types find rest in creating.

Busy types find rest in busy-ness.

Very few people, however, default to developing leaders. It’s not natural to bring someone along and to empower them to serve. Capable people, especially, have a difficult time including others in their work.

Leadership development is a discipline, not a reflex.

Think of it like trying to lose weight. The only time in my life that I have lost weight without being highly intentional is when I have a stomach bug. When my body is rejecting the fuel I’m trying to give it, I can lose weight without much effort (but usually quite a bit of pain).

My natural reflex is to put my head down and accomplish. I fear rejection, so I default to not wanting to bother people for help. I justify it, and move forward alone.

But that’s not how I grow as a leader. I want to develop those around me. I want the people (young and old) around me to be grow because of the leadership influence I have on them.

But it takes discipline. It takes purpose. It takes intentionality.

Do you agree? Is developing leaders around you a discipline, or a reflex? What is one thing you need to do today to develop someone around you?

The Calm in the Storm

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I went on vacation last week. So, naturally, when I got back in the office yesterday, I was met with a whirlwind.

Things I should have finished before leaving were staring me in the face, as well as new “opportunities for leadership growth” (read:issues to be addressed). It was a full day.

But, the final 30 minutes proved to be the most productive. After spending the day checking things off my to do list, brainstorming, writing, catching up, fielding grounders, I was able to sit down at my desk for 30 minutes to wrap up the day, uninterrupted. Because everyone had gone home.

The calm in the storm provided some much needed clarity.

The same is likely true for you. You’re facing all sorts of challenges on a constant schedule. The COVID interruption (or disruption) has likely made you feel like you’re pedaling a 10 speed bicycle in 5th gear–coasting downhill is the same, but having to cover the same ground you covered pre-COVID is twice as much work.

Find the calm in the storm. Find the moments where you can take a breath. Maybe it’s early in the morning, or late at night after everyone has gone to bed. Maybe it’s the first 30 minutes in the office before everyone else shows up, or the final 30 minutes after everyone has left.

Maybe the calm in your storm isn’t about your schedule as much as your location. A sunset, sunrise, quiet lunch, or challenging podcast may be exactly what you need to feel refreshed.

Wherever (or whenever) your calm may be found, pursue it. You need time to catch your breath. You need a break from the chaos. You will be healthier for it. Your family will be healthier for it. Your leadership will be healthier for it. Trust me.

Have you subscribed to get 3QL in your inbox? It may just be the calm you need each Tuesday/Thursday!

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