The Why Means More Than The What

The principle is simple: think about what you’re doing, don’t just do it.

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I started the Three Question Leadership Blog 4 years ago. I thought I would spend the next few weeks sharing some of my first posts, in their entirety, here. Whether you’re new or have been with me all along, I hope you find these concepts applicable.

Today I’m going to go out on a limb. I do not know if this is a solid leadership principle, or just something that’s true in my life, but here we go.

Sometimes, the why behind a decision carries more weight than the what.

I do not believe in doing things just for the sake of doing something. Instead, I try to think through reasons and make the best choice moving forward.

In the same way, a well thought out reason for doing something, even if I don’t agree with it, speaks to me more than a blind mandate.

The principle is simple: think about what you’re doing, don’t just do it. This does not negate reflexes or instincts, but it means count the cost. You will not be able to foresee every possibility, but having a solid reason to answer the “why” question is a necessity.

As a leader, I want those I lead to know I have put thought into an idea, a thought, a program, or whatever else.

Now, I want to hear from you! Do you agree or disagree? Do you perform better when you know thought has been put into a decision? Comment below and let me know.

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Lessons from the Farm: Build Around the Water

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Somewhere before or after my senior year of high school (I forget which), we underwent a major construction project on the farm. We tore down our existing corrals (part of which had been there for nearly 100 years!) and built a new set.

This was my largest construction project to date, and it only included pipe and oil field cable. But it was something my dad had been planning for a while.

As we built, obviously my dad knew how he wanted the layout. Do you care to guess what we built around?

It wasn’t the new loading chute, though that was part of our plan.

It wasn’t the new sorting lane, though that was part of our plan.

It wasn’t the new crowding pin, though that was part of our plan.

It was water.

Everything else could have been built anywhere on the place. Our water supply, however, was in a specific place. So we built the new corrals around our water tank.

I’m going to confess something. This COVID19 interruption has thrown me for a loop. It’s taken everything I’ve spent the last 12 months to establish (my 1 year anniversary was the last Sunday we met in person), and taken it to the ground.

I value routine. That’s part of why I’ve been able to blog so consistently for 3+ years. It’s part of my rhythm. But what happens when my rhythm gets challenged? What happens when you level the old corrals and start new?

You build around the water.

Months ago I spent some time adding some structure to the direction I want the ministry I lead to head. We rolled out a new logo in January that represents that new direction. And in the middle of this, that new direction is what has kept me grounded. That direction, or purpose, or vision, or whatever you want to call it, has been my water.

What’s your water? What are you building around in this time of shifting? Do you need to take some time to determine what your water is?

Stay faithful to what’s important today, and let the rest build on itself.

Know Your Fish

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This past weekend I got to spend time with a great group of teenage guys. We built a trip for them, and it was a great experience.

On Saturday we had the opportunity to fish and shoot skeet (clay pigeons). If I were to be completely honest, we shot skeet because it’s been a while since I’ve shot and I wanted to shoot, and we fished because the boys asked to go fishing.

Now, the last paragraph reveals something about me — I’m not a fisherman. My thoughts when planning the trip didn’t go to “It would be so much fun to fish” but instead “it would be so much fun to shoot skeet.”

When it comes to fishing, I don’t know what I’m doing. I can make some guesses. I can buy some fishing supplies, mostly on clearance because I like a good deal. But the bottom line is the one time I’ve ever taken my girls fishing and tried to figure it out, we caught a turtle with a turkey hot dog. Let that sink in.

Shooting skeet, on the other hand, is more in my wheel house. I know what it takes. I know what we need. I know who to ask. I have a good idea of how to set it up, because I have done it often. I know what my goal is, and I know how to achieve it.

Here’s your leadership principle – if you don’t know your goal, you don’t know how to achieve it.

I don’t know what bait to use to catch what type of fish.

I know which gun to use to shoot skeet.

If you are working and don’t have a goal in mind, then all the effort you’re putting in is wasted energy.

Even worse, if the people you are leading don’t know what your goal should be, then all the effort you’re putting in is wasted.

A clear vision/purpose/direction/goal allows you to create shared forward movement. When you get everyone on the same page moving forward, the progress you’re able to make will be beyond what you ever imagined.

But it doesn’t happen if you don’t even know what kind of fish you’re trying to catch.

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