Grow Thyself

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What are you doing to grow yourself as a leader?

There are a few themes I tend to repeat here on 3QL, and the need to grow always makes the list. Because if we don’t grow, how can we expect the people around us to grow?

One of the ways I try to keep myself growing is by consuming books. I’m in the middle of 3-4 books right now (yes, I have commitment issues), but I want to share one that has sparked my interest greatly.

Carey Nieuwhof is a thought leader when it comes to leadership. If you aren’t subscribed to his blog or following him on social, I would encourage you to do that right away. Carey experienced burn out a few years ago, has been able to recover in a healthy way, and just released a book titled At Your Best sharing how he rescheduled his day to increase his productivity. It’s been a fascinating read and extremely thought provoking exercise for me over the past couple weeks. I thought I would pass it along.

Click here to buy At Your Best from Amazon.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes so far:

“Workaholism is, after all, the most rewarded addiction in the nation.”

“Stop saying you don’t have the time. Start admitting you didn’t make the time.”

“Balanced people don’t change the world. Passionate people do.”

“If you don’t declare a finish line to your work, your body will.”

Check it out, and see what happens!

Lessons from the Court: Know What You Know

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“You might need marriage counseling after this game.”

Little did our friends know the truth of a sentence spoken in jest.

For the past couple years, playing pickup basketball has been one of my more consistent events week in, week out. Recently I spent some time reflecting on the leadership lessons I can share from my time on the court.

Recently my wife has been playing with us. I love my wife, she’s amazing, but we were fortunate enough to have not been paired up to that point, until this fateful day.

We had a few tense moments, and frustrations never got the best of us. But, it was still an experience. And here’s what I realized: she doesn’t know what I know about basketball. She has her own instincts. She doesn’t know my hand signals or head nods. She doesn’t know to anticipate which cut I’m going to make (or usually not make).

So who am I to get frustrated at her for knowing what she knows and not what I know?

The same is true in leadership. How can we honestly get frustrated at someone for not knowing what they’ve never been taught?

What if we shifted our mindset? What if, instead of lamenting what someone may not know, we take on the role of guide and teach them? How would our leadership change if we created a shared language?

Basically, we have two choices: 1) we can expect people to “get with the program” and catch up to where we are, or 2) we can understand what someone may not know and help them grow. One of these requires a decent amount of self awareness. The other is poor leadership.

Take a minute to evaluate some of the people you lead. What do they not know? How can you help them grow?

Lessons from the Court: Learn to Trust

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If we’ve never actually met, I’m a tall guy. But not only am I tall, I’m big and slow. Like, really slow.

One day we had three people show up to play basketball, so we played “21” (or one-on-one-on-one). This was great until the two guys I was playing against realized I was not quick enough to get past them. So they started guarding me pretty tight and shut me down.

That’s why I prefer to play with a team.

For the past couple years, playing pickup basketball has been one of my more consistent events week in, week out. Recently I spent some time reflecting on the leadership lessons I can share from my time on the court.

When you play pickup basketball, you don’t always know who’s going to be on your team when you walk into the gym. Some weeks you may get the new guy, and some weeks you may get the “old” guy.

But no matter who you have on your team, it makes more sense to learn to trust them, than to try to exclude them. This makes sense, right? If we have a game of four on four, yet I don’t trust my teammates, then I’m really playing one on four. Who would choose to do that?

Trust is imperative when playing basketball. I need to trust my teammate’s ability to make the right choice. I need to trust their judgment. I need to trust their effort. I need to trust them. Because if I don’t, we both lose.

The same is true in leadership. If we don’t learn to trust the people around us, then we are setting ourselves up for either failure or a lifetime of lone-wolf leadership (which isn’t really leadership).

But, when we learn what our teammates bring to the table, and we choose to trust their ability, desire, and skills, then we unlock a new level of progress.

Who around you do you need to trust today? How might trusting them help you reach a new level? What are you waiting for?

3 Questions to Help You Grow as a Leader

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Earlier this week, I wrote about how our leadership development begins with us. I can’t make you grow, and you can’t make me grow. Ultimately, the decision is a personal one, and I hope one you’re willing to make. As you seek to grow in your leadership, here are three questions which I think you should be able to provide an answer.

  1. What was the last book on leadership you consumed? I chose the word “consumed” because I’m a little quirky. I don’t always read a book. In fact, I often find myself listening to audiobooks, with one caveat. For me, I don’t engage with audiobooks as well as I do with written word. But either way, there’s something about exploring leadership ideas and principles that opens our understanding and challenges us. So, again, I ask what was the last book on leadership you consumed? Here are a few of mine:

2. What was the last discussion about leadership you had? This goes a few different ways. When was the last time you went to someone with stronger leadership skills and asked questions? When was the last time you went to a leadership peer and asked questions? When was the last time you brought a less experienced leader alongside you and asked questions? Chances are if you’re not having discussions, at least occasionally, about leadership growth and development, then it’s probably not happening. Change that.

3. What was the last observation about leadership you had? I may be a little biased here, but I think if we’re not looking for leadership lessons and principles around us, then we are going to miss too many opportunities for growth. Pay attention to your own leadership. Note your flaws and your wins. Sometimes the best lessons we learn are ones we observe. Just this week I was reminded of a principle I observed over 10 years ago–and it’s still true!

Once again, at the end of the day, you’re responsible for your growth. What are you doing to grow? What are you going to do?

Leadership Growth Begins with…

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I’ve been on an interesting leadership journey the past 12 months.

It all started with an audio book. During the summer of COVID shutdowns, I had just finished our biggest event, and was looking to unwind a little bit. So, naturally, I stepped outside to my grill. As is my habit, I started listening to a book. But I didn’t want to just listen to a book, I wanted to engage with a book. So when the author talked about hitting pause and filling out an assessment, I did just that.

And I was shocked. So shocked, in fact, that I immediately bought the physical version of the book (because I know I engage better through a physical version). I invited a few friends to read through the book with me, and the five of us proceeded to know out a section per week for the next six weeks.

Running concurrently, I joined a leadership network with the intent of trying to grow in my own leadership. At some point, I got to jump on a call with the coach and he offered some insights that proved invaluable, practical, and inspirational.

And then I got intentional. Over the past year, I have walked side by side at least a dozen different leaders (most of them not even students!), seeking to invest in and inspire them. Some of these relationships are ongoing, and some are more seasonal. But in the process, I learned one thing: Leadership growth begins with me.

More specifically, my leadership growth begins with me.

If I want others to grow, I have to be willing to grow. If I want to make an impact in the lives of other people, I have to be willing to put forth the effort to grow myself.

The same is true for you. What are you doing to grow as a leader? What are you reading? To what are you listening? With whom are you surrounding yourself? What opportunities are you pursuing? How intentional are you being about growing? How intentional are you willing to be about growing?

At the end of the day, your greatest influence is always over yourself. What are you doing to lead yourself? What change do you need to make. What next step can you take to help?

I don’t usually do this, but if you’ve read this: I want you to comment your answer to one of the questions above. It can be on the blog, on Facebook, or a reply on Twitter. But I want to know what you’re doing, so that maybe it will help me grow, too. If you’re looking to make a change, I’d love to help encourage you along the way.

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