You Can Do This

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Leadership can be difficult.

Knowing what to say and when to say it.

Knowing what to do and when to do it.

Knowing who to recruit and how to ask.

Knowing when to speak and when to stay silent.

Knowing when to correct and when to encourage.

Knowing when to navigate a season and when to change.

If you’re trying to expand your leadership influence, you likely resonate with at least one of these. And that’s perfectly natural.

Regardless of the tension you’re navigating, or the season you’re walking through, let me offer this: hang in there. You can do this.

The call to leadership is a call to growth-both of ourselves and of those we lead.

But growth takes time.

Be intentional. Be faithful. Move forward at a steady pace and you’ll be amazed at how you can grow.

Lessons from the Court: Know What You Know

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“You might need marriage counseling after this game.”

Little did our friends know the truth of a sentence spoken in jest.

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.

Recently my wife has been playing with us. I love my wife, she’s amazing, but we were fortunate enough to have not been paired up to that point, until this fateful day.

We had a few tense moments, and frustrations never got the best of us. But, it was still an experience. And here’s what I realized: she doesn’t know what I know about basketball. She has her own instincts. She doesn’t know my hand signals or head nods. She doesn’t know to anticipate which cut I’m going to make (or usually not make).

So who am I to get frustrated at her for knowing what she knows and not what I know?

The same is true in leadership. How can we honestly get frustrated at someone for not knowing what they’ve never been taught?

What if we shifted our mindset? What if, instead of lamenting what someone may not know, we take on the role of guide and teach them? How would our leadership change if we created a shared language?

Basically, we have two choices: 1) we can expect people to “get with the program” and catch up to where we are, or 2) we can understand what someone may not know and help them grow. One of these requires a decent amount of self awareness. The other is poor leadership.

Take a minute to evaluate some of the people you lead. What do they not know? How can you help them grow?

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: Know Your Team

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Have you ever misjudged someone’s character? Have you ever expected someone to do something, only to be disappointed (or even angry) when they don’t follow through? Have you ever wondered what that says about you?

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.

One of the tricky things about pickup basketball is you seldom have the same team from week to week. So when teams are divided out, it’s important to know who’s on your team. Here’s why:

You don’t want to pass the ball to the wrong person, obviously. If you have someone around you who is aiming for the same goal (literally), don’t pass the ball to someone who doesn’t have the same goal.

Second, you don’t want to neglect potential on your own team. We don’t mess up only when we pass the ball away, but also when we neglect a teammate. If we’re playing 3 on 3, why would I want to exclude a teammate and essentially make the game a 2 on 3 affair? It doesn’t make sense.

Now, the leadership principles are the same.

As you begin to lead people, you need to take some time to evaluate who’s on your team for the same two reasons.

First, you don’t want to misjudge someone’s motives and hand off a critical task only to realize (often too late) your goals didn’t align. They were shooting for their own target, not yours. And now you have to deal with the fallout.

Second, why would you neglect someone who IS willing to help? If I am completely honest with you, I struggle with this more than I should. It’s not that I willfully neglect anyone, it’s that I feel guilty asking someone (who’s on board) to help. That’s why the three questions are so helpful for me.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, your job as a leader is to make the most of the team you have around you. That starts by knowing who is on your team and who is not.

A Bonus Back to Basics!

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Three Question Leadership is kind of my brand. I mean, look at the url above, and you’ll see it. I’ve spent the last 4+ years honing the three questions, but today I have a bonus for you – the secret 4th question that unlocks the power of the Three Questions.

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

I love these three questions. I love the framework they provide. I love the simplicity. I love the potential they unlock. I love watching students learn to work through them.

But sometimes, as I’ve taught these questions to students, I fill time with talking. One night I was doing that and off handedly mentioned a fourth question, to which Gabe was enamored by. I’m not sure if he was more caught by the content of the 4th question, or the secrecy of it, but he didn’t let me forget it.

The fourth question is simply this: Who can I teach the Three Questions? (Multiplication)

At the end of the day, while the first three questions provide a solid framework, the true power of the questions is in their replication. What I’ve been doing the last two weeks. What you can do by teaching the framework to those you lead.

Ultimately, the best secrets are secrets that cannot be kept. That’s why today’s title mentions a bonus. Learning to share the framework is like hitting the jackpot. Slowly but surely you will see culture begin to shift as service and leadership take a front and center approach.

So, who can you teach the three questions? Who in your life, in your sphere of influence, can you challenge? What are you waiting for? Send them the link to this blog!

As always, you can subscribe here to get these posts delivered straight to your inbox.

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