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: 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?

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.

Back to Basics, Pt 2

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“When will I ever use this in real life?”

Raise your hand if you ever uttered those infamous words, most commonly spoken in upper level math classes. We all have something intrinsically wired inside of us desiring to use what we learn. We may not always be able to verbalize the need, but it exists regardless.

In response to this hard wired desire, I started teaching students a simple framework of questions to help them think through a practical approach to leadership and influence. I reference it often here, even giving this framework it’s own page on the navigation bar (The Foundation), but I thought it might be time to write something fresh about the Three Questions.

The concept is simple: teach yourself (and those around you!) to ask and answer the following three questions, and watch your influence slowly begin to grow. As it becomes part of the language, you’ll begin to see a difference. So, without further delay, here you go:

When you walk into a room (or approach a situation), ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. What Needs To Be Done? (Awareness)
  2. What Can I Do? (Willingness)
  3. Who Can I Get To Help? (Leadership)
  4. A Bonus Question!

Today, let’s talk about the easiest of the three questions: What can I do?

After we identify needs in a room (or situation), we then ask what are we willing and capable of doing. While this is the easiest of the three questions, it’s no less important than the other two. Why? Because if we are unwilling to meet a need, it will be incredibly difficult to continually inspire and equip someone else to meet the need.

To answer the second question efficiently, discover your strengths and weaknesses. What are you good at doing? Where do you struggle?

In John Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership, he talks about there are generally two types of people – task oriented people and relationship oriented people. Neither is better than the other, because neglecting our weak side makes us that much weaker as a leader.

I’m very much a task oriented leader, so I naturally see tasks that need to be accomplished in a room. In order to grow and expand my leadership, however, I make myself look for relational opportunities in a room.

Here’s why: my willingness to meet a need will serve as an example to those around me, and it helps me learn the struggles of what I may ask someone else to do.

Ultimately, we cannot lead people where we have not gone. So if I’m unwilling to learn to meet needs, then it will be much more difficult for me to lead others to do the same.

Are you ready to take the next step in your leadership? Then step up and be willing to meet the need!

Check back next week for the continuation!

Or even better, click here to subscribe so you don’t miss a single post.

The Power of an Aha Moment

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Let’s talk about “Aha” moments. Those moments where someone says something and you almost instinctively push back, only to realize they’re right.

One of my aha moments came about 10 years ago. I was serving bi-vocationally at the church where I grew up. We were seeing some good growth, but we hit a bit of a ceiling. Then one day while listening to a podcast, probably while riding a 4-wheeler, I heard Josh Griffin say something to the effect of: 30 kids is about the max a youth minister will be able to sustain by himself.

To clarify: he was saying that if I was going to do ministry by myself, the biggest number I would be able to sustain would be about 30. We might balloon over that, but reality is we would never successfully grow past that.

And I was living it. The ministry had grown to about 30, but had hit a ceiling. I had my “aha” moment, and decided it was time to make a change.

So I started looking for an adult to recruit. That’s actually a very difficult thing to do in a small town, but I set out to do it. And I found someone willing to help.

Fast forward a few years, and at the peak of the ministry at my last church, we had a solid team of adults investing in and loving on students. In fact, the success we saw would not have happened without those adults.

Now, today, a couple years into a new role, I’ve spent a significant amount of time and energy investing in and encouraging adults, and we are set for growth.

Here’s the point: leadership development means recruiting and retaining.

This comes very naturally and easy to some people, but to others (like me), it takes continual, intentional effort. But it’s worth the effort. And more than that, it’s a blessing to the people we invite for the journey.

So, youth ministers: who can you recruit today? What are you waiting for?

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