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: Develop the Right Habits

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When I was in early high school my brother told me Dennis Rodman, and NBA rebounding wizard, would study game film of his teammates and map out where their misses would go. Then, when that teammate would shoot the ball, Rodman would move to the spot on the court where the ball would most likely go if his teammate missed the shot.

Impressive reasoning, right?

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.

Most of the time when I play pickup basketball, I’m one of the taller people on the court. As a result, I can out rebound most people I play against, but what they often don’t realize is the movement I’m making when the shot goes up.

You see, over time, I’ve developed a sense of where a rebound is going to go. I can tell if a teammate’s shot is short, long, right or left. I even try to pay attention to if they shoot short the more tired they get. Then, I can move toward the basket when the ball is in the air.

When my judgment is on, it can swing the momentum of a game. When my judgment is off, however, it’s not as impressive. Please understand, I’m not a great player. But being in the right place at the right time makes all the difference in the world.

But ultimately, I’ve developed a habit that puts me in position to make a difference.

Leadership is the same way. You can take steps today to develop a habit that puts you in position to make a difference tomorrow. But what steps can you take? Here are a few habits I would recommend establishing:

  1. Learn Constantly. I recently listened to a John Maxwell Co Podcast where the host shared three questions he asks himself every morning: What did I learn yesterday? What will I learn today? Where will I learn today? These questions serve as a great framework to develop a habit of constantly learning.
  2. Look to Serve. Find places where you can make a difference, and be willing to step in to make the difference. As you hone this skill, it will become more and more natural. And if you need a framework to help, check out these questions (surprised?)
  3. Invite Others to Join You. I don’t want to dive too deep into my own insecurities here, but even as much as I enjoy my alone time, I’ve found so much enjoyment in bringing other people in for the journey. Inviting others to join us is when we see our leadership begin to produce results, so why not make it a habit!

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but developing habits like this will definitely help you increase your leadership influence.

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.

Lessons from the Farm: When to Stop

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To finish out Lessons from the Farm for 2021, I thought I would repost a few lessons from years past. Enjoy!

Earlier this week, I posted about not stopping when you’re trying to move forward. I would recommend if you haven’t read the first post, click here and read it before reading today. And yes, today’s picture is an authentic picture as well, just not something I did.

Here’s the thing about getting stuck. Once you get stuck, more than likely you’re not going to pull yourself out alone. In fact, in my experience, when I got stuck and kept telling myself I could work myself out, a lot of times I only dug a deeper hole.

So, today’s leadership principle is know when to stop and ask for help.

There seems to be an aura in society about asking for help. People are ashamed to do it. Often times, I’m embarrassed to ask for help. It’s embarrassing to send your boss (much less your dad) a picture of a pickup buried to the frame. It’s even more embarrassing as a 28 year old to send the same picture to the 17 year old kid who works with you.

As leaders we convince ourselves that asking for help is a sign of weakness. We are the leader, so why would we need help? Are we not supposed to be the expert? We should know better.

Or, maybe you’ve served with someone who asked for help so much you felt like all they were doing was trying to get out of doing actual work, and you do not want to come across that way.

But, when you’re stuck, you’re stuck. Scroll up and look at today’s picture again. Do you think there’s any way that tractor is getting out on it’s own? It’s not equipped to do it. The front tires alone (it’s not an all wheel drive tractor) are almost completely buried.

In leadership, the same thing can happen. We can get to a place where we’ve tried and tried to work our way out, but the truth is we have dug ourselves such an incredible hole, we have to ask for help.

Help comes in a variety of ways, but here are three:

Trusted friends – Maybe all you need is a little push so your tires can grab. Trusted friends are great for this! They keep you honest, humble, and moving forward. Surround yourself with people who think differently than you, and everyone wins.

Conferences – Something about getting away and being exposed to new or different ideas and concepts gets our creative juices flowing. I’m excited to try to find a conference in our current climate that will help me to process and make the most of the struggles I’m facing.

Professional Counseling – I cannot tell you how many significant leaders to whom I listen or read have stressed the importance of counseling. Sometimes, when you’re stuck, the best step is to seek the help of a professional.

The bottom line is this: we all get stuck at some point. Great leaders know they’re stuck and are not afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of maturity.

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