Can Dissatisfaction Be a Good Thing?

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I’ve been reading through a John Maxwell’s “5 Levels of Leadership” with a group of friends. In this week’s reading, we came across a line I thought was interesting.

“Dissatisfaction is a good one word definition for motivation.”

John Maxwell, 5 Levels of Leadership

Maxwell’s words resonated with me. I want to always be getting better. Last week I talked about Routines and Ruts. I think dissatisfaction provides the traction to get out of ruts in our lives. As we feel ourselves getting comfortable, often dissatisfaction proves to be the nudge we need to get out of a rut.

But, in our discussion yesterday, a friend asked a great question as a followup: how do you stay healthy in the midst of dissatisfaction? In other words, if we are dissatisfied all the time, don’t we eventually become someone people avoid?

I think, as leaders, we have to celebrate the wins. We have to learn to enjoy the moment. But in balance with a healthy sense of dissatisfaction.

A football team (do you remember football?) plays one game per week. A single win does not make a successful season, but can instead lay the foundation for growth and progress.

In High School, I never once had a coach come in the day after a win and say “good job guys, let’s take the week off after that one.” Instead, we celebrated the win in the moment, but remained focused to progress and grow.

The same is true for us as leaders, especially in ministry. We may remain dissatisfied, but until we learn to celebrate the victories along the way, growth will evade us. If we are always dissatisfied, though, we become jaded and our leadership influence takes a hit.

So where do you land on this spectrum? Is there something you need to celebrate? Is there some dissatisfaction that needs to start brewing? Take a leadership step this week.

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Feeling Stuck? Break Out of Your Ruts

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What’s the difference between a routine and a rut?

Earlier this week, I shared about the rhythm of routines. You can read that post here.

If you’ve been reading 3QL posts for very long, you have probably picked up on a theme that’s running beneath the surface (and sometimes not even beneath). I’ve written previously about Routines vs Ruts, the Redundancy of Leadership, Redundancy (Again), and the Repetition Key, just to name a few.

Great leadership is not making a single decision in a single moment and moving on. Great leadership occurs with repetition over time. Great leaders put in the time to practice and develop and stretch their leadership muscles so those around them can practice and develop and stretch their leadership muscles.

That’s why I’m fascinated by routines. As I establish routines around me, it allows me to grow. But we know this in other parts of our life, right?

Exercise routines help us not lay in bed choosing what workout we are going to do.

Diet routines help us make healthy choices.

Driving routines help us make faster time.

Bed time routines help our children fall asleep faster. Hopefully.

So why not establish a few key leadership routines?

But the danger of a routine is it becomes a rut before we realize it. We lose the excitement. We lose the thrill. We start going through the motions. The routine becomes simply an item on our checklist that doesn’t receive the proper mental energy.

Routines open the doors for growth and progress. Ruts suck the life out of us, keeping us trapped in a predetermined path.

Why do you think people talk about “breaking ruts”, that’s because it takes intentional effort.

That intentional effort begins with naming the rut. Acknowledging it’s there and it’s not helping. Then, change the routine to break out of your rut.

What routines in your life have become ruts? What change do you need to make to break out of those ruts? A new routine? An alteration to the current routine?

Are you willing to make the change? Now go!

4 Reasons for a Leadership Application

4 Reasons I Have a Leadership Application

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I am in the process of interviewing students who applied for our Student Leadership Team. The application process is two fold: a written application and an interview.

The written application is a compilation of 9 questions. The questions help give me insight into how these students think about leadership–which is always insightful. One of the questions, specifically, asks how they hope to grow from their time on the leadership team, and from that I learn what they expect leadership team to look like.

But there’s more to my reasoning than just to get an inside look. Here are four reasons why I have an application process for Student Leaders:

  1. An application process sets the precedence that leaders put in extra time. Leadership is one part shifting our focus (awareness) and one part doing the extra work (willingness). If a student is not willing to take the time to fill out a few questions (as little as 5-10 minutes) they are likely not willing to go the extra mile. If there is no commitment up front, then you will get some students who just want to do something for the sake of doing something.
  2. An application process communicates a desire to do more. For some students, they feel like they could be doing more, but they don’t know where to start. When you open a process and allow them to pursue the steps of joining a team, it helps cement in their minds their desire to take another step.
  3. An application process helps establish commitments. I set the deadline and then give a week window for interviews. If they cannot schedule a meeting within that week, then they may need to wait to join the team. Leaders commit and follow through with their commitments. The application process (written and interview) helps teach them to take initiative.
  4. An application process starts moving everyone in the same direction. It gives a shared experience. Every student answers the same questions. I unintentionally left a very poorly worded question on the form, and it ended up being a unifying moment as the kids talked with each other trying to figure out what it meant. They now have the shared experience of trying to answer that question. (This was the answer I was expecting, by the way.)

I have never turned away a kid who applied, although I have had one who filled out the application but at the interview decided to back out (which I agreed with wholeheartedly).

What does your application process look like for student leaders? Does your experience line up with mine? I’d love to hear from you!

Having a Plan

Having a Plan

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What are you doing to develop your personal leadership?

I ask this question from time to time, and if you’re reading this, then I hope you would include this blog as part of it.

But what else are you doing?

Do you read books on leadership? TED talks? Audiobooks? Podcasts? Are you in a network of other leaders who help you wrestle with ideas?

What we do to grow our leadership influence is both a variable (what we do) and a constant (grow our leadership influence). But it rarely happens on accident. Intentionality paves the way for progress.

If you want to expand your leadership influence, it starts with intentionality. Commit to growing. Make sacrifices for the sake of growth.

Reading, for me, is a sacrifice. I have a solid routine, but regular reading is not part of that routine. That’s why I set a goal of reading a certain number of books the past few years (and increased my number this year). I want reading to be a central part of who I am, because it opens my mind to things I don’t get from old episodes of Psych. So, I’m finding ways to work reading into my routines.

So, once again, what are you doing to develop your personal leadership?

Take some time today to work through this. Make a decision about what you’re going to do, and then stick with it.

Maybe you’re going to read one leadership book each month.

Or listen to one leadership podcast a week.

Or start your day with a leadership thought.

Or watch a leadership video from YouTube or RightNow media.

Or choose to not do anything. But that’s not you. You want to grow.

In the meantime, I know you’ll hang around, and we will continue to grow together. Thanks for being here, now let’s expand our leadership influence.

Leadership Mistakes: Moving Too Slow

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I had a nickname in high school: Slow Motion. Care to guess where it came from? Well, it wasn’t my speed. It was my lack of it.

I’m a big guy. Back then, I was just a tall guy, but I’ve never been quick. As a result, my lack of speed constantly haunts me. Okay, that may be a little extreme. But you get the idea.

In leadership, however, one of the mistakes we are often tempted to make is moving too slow. This happens for two main reasons:

  1. Fear – We worry about dealing with the fallout from the change. If we upset the apple cart, how can we be certain the end result is worth the struggle in the middle? Often times this is the equivalent of saying “I don’t want to diet because I’d have to worry about being too skinny.” If the change needs to be made, don’t let fear of the outcome hold you back.
  2. Ease – It’s actually easy to not upset the apple cart. It’s easy to keep the status quo, even if the needed change would mean higher productivity in the end!

But, what are the benefits of not allowing fear and ease to cause us to move too slow? Simple: progress.

When we learn to fight against the urge to move too slow, then we start to see progress. We are able to develop more people. We are able to move more people forward. We are able to stand up to our fear and apprehension because we have experienced the other side.

Naturally, there’s a balance between moving too fast and moving too slow. So ask yourself two question: 1) which side do I lean towards? and 2) Does it seem to work to my benefit?

If your answer to the second question is no, then guess what? You need to start trying to move the other way. If you’re naturally a “wait and see” leader and find yourself constantly regretting your patience, then start moving toward action. The same is true if you’re an action oriented person who regularly leaves a trail of bodies in your wake.

There’s always room to grow, but the question always comes down to: are you willing to evaluate in order to grow?

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