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.

Pass the Shovel

Pass the Shovel

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Have you ever been asked to dig a hole and not been given the proper tool to accomplish the task?

A few years ago I took a group of kids on a mission trip. The group I had proved a little more efficient than the host anticipated, so we started working on random projects around the property. One of the projects was digging holes for a future gate.

Now, growing up on the farm, I’ve had my share of digging holes. We used tractors, post hole diggers, and shovels to accomplish the necessary task at hand. But, I had never experienced having to dig a hole like this.

The ground below the top soil was almost solid rock. So, for the first time in my life, I learned to use a digging bar.

A digging bar, to jazz it up, is a metal spear that chips rock away bit by bit. And it’s work.

Each person in our group would take turns, about 10-20 strikes per person, trying to chip away at the rock. Then, after we had made some progress, someone would swoop in and clean out as much debris as possible. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The funny thing is this: the owner of the property didn’t look at me and say “you have great hole digging potential” and walk away. Instead, he walked us out, gave us the tools we needed, demonstrated what it looked like, and let us get to work.

Developing student leaders is very similar. A lot of people will tell a student “you have leadership potential”, but are we walking away or putting a digging bar in their hands?

If we want to develop student leaders, then our job is not complete at recognizing ability. We need to equip them to step up and lead. We need to find the shovel, post hole diggers, and digging bars necessary to help them grow and accomplish the task.

How do we do that? I’m glad you asked. Go here to read about three questions I’ve developed to help put a shovel in the hands of a student. My desire is not to simply acknowledge someone’s potential, but to give them the opportunity to serve.

As we teach students to lead using the three questions, we are providing them with the opportunity to grow and to come to know understand leadership more clearly. The three questions are definitely not the end game, but they sure do open the door for further conversation.

And who knows, as we teach ourselves to pass the shovel, maybe we will grow as leaders along the way, too.

Reframing Student Leadership

Reframing Student Leadership

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I saw a youth ministry related facebook post the other day asking how the collective hive mind selects student leaders. I think this is an extremely legitimate question, but one that needs a quick reframing.

Let me start by zooming out. The bottom line when it comes to leadership development is that I am not the only person interested in developing students into growing leaders. In fact, depending on their extracurricular activities, I may be one of multiple people interested in helping them expand their leadership influence.

As we zoom in, however, we start to see a few key differences. Of all the people in a student’s life who want them to grow as a leader, I may be one of a select few who are interested in teaching servant leadership, and more specifically, servant leadership as modeled and taught by Jesus.

So, when I look at a room of students and want to select a few student leaders, my approach is a little different. I have written about two key traits for student leaders previously (you can read that here), but one of my criteria is willingness to serve. If a student is unwilling to serve, then neither of us grow from the time we spend.

I watched this play out first hand. I used to think if I saw leadership potential in a student, they would benefit from me calling it out of them. But there was a flaw in my approach. I was calling something out of a student who wasn’t willing to serve, and as a result their commitment level was abnormally low, and even started to resent me for expecting them to show up.

Now I take a different approach. Most recently, I have students fill out an application and sit down for an interview before joining the leadership team. If a student is willing to put forth the effort of filling out an application and scheduling an interview, then we have an agreement there will be a time commitment to what they’re doing.

I cannot call something out of someone who is unwilling to grow.

Guilting a student into leadership misses the point.

Only allowing the popular kids to lead misses the point.

Establishing leadership as a higher rung misses the point.

On Thursday I will continue this thought, but for today let me ask you to join me in considering this: is your approach to developing leaders around you a healthy one? Are you willing to make the changes necessary? Are you willing to keep what needs to be kept?

Watching leaders grow their leadership influence is one of the most exciting parts of what I do. But that doesn’t mean everything is a win. I have had to adapt over the years. Maybe you need to do the same thing.

Want to stay in the discussion? Click here to subscribe to make certain you get Thursday’s post continuing this thought.

Mindset Makes the Difference

Mindset Makes the Difference

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Sometimes, I think perspective is a super power.

And by perspective, I mean mindset. How we choose to view a situation.

What is more disarming in a tense situation than admitting or realizing things aren’t as bad as they may feel in the moment?

Look back at a time where you overreacted to a situation in the moment. How would things have changed if you had taken a breath and allowed your perspective to shift?

I have been taking kids to camp for 16 summers. Over that time, I’ve learned there are some things that are not worth stressing about. Messy bunks all get packed up at the end of the week, but little steps taken the night before go a long way.

My mindset has changed over time. Some things have become less important, while other things have become more important.

When we approach a situation filled with change, we have a choice to make. Are we going to mourn the change, or are we going to accept that change always happens, and agree to move forward in a healthy way?

I heard a quote this week that went like this:

Change is inevitable. Progress is not. Focus on progress and stop worrying about change.

Charles Lee

Focusing on progress instead of worrying about change is a mindset shift. It’s choosing what is more important and focusing on things we can influence.

You have the opportunity to spread a sense of peace to those around by the way you view and talk about a situation.

Your mindset will influence the room.

My question for you is this: are you going to allow your mindset to make your situation better or worse? Are you going to engage the opportunity, or withdraw because it’s a challenge? Are you going to focus on change, or on progress?

Ultimately, you decide. Your mindset makes the difference.

Grab your superhero cape. Change your mindset. Change the world.

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