Authority loves being in charge.
Influence loves to serve others.
Authority is a transactional interaction. Influence is earned through relationship.
Great leaders care so much about their people that serving them isn't something they do, it's just who they are.
Would you rather follow someone into battle that you trust or be watched by someone that will criticize you if you fail?
Pretty ridiculous question.
One that should be a gut-check for anyone in a leadership position.
I've heard it said before that if you are a leader and look behind you to see no one following...you are just out for a long, lonely walk.
The only way to turn a lonely walk into a genuine movement of the people you want to lead? Humility. Walk back towards them. Ask them how you can serve them. Anticipate their needs. See them as people first, not just what they do on your team. What they do is influenced by what you say, how you say it, and how you walk out those words.
When you walk out kind words that are rooted in your vision and core values, it's likely you'll turn around to see an army of people right there with you...ready to conquer the challenges in front of you.
A leader who wants to be seen as the authority and in charge is more concerned about their appearance and need for control. They love a good pat on the back...as long as it's theirs.
A leader of influence wants to serve their team and is more concerned about the needs of each team member, and helping them grow as individuals. The result is a group of people who want to, and ultimately do, grow as a team. They become a family. An influential leader's hands are used to serve their people, not pat their own back.
1. An authoritative figure dictates and talks down to their people.
2. A leader of influence inspires and lifts up their people.
3. Be option #2.
Transactions vs. Relationships.
What is the difference?
In a nutshell...
Transactional interactions are when people do something for someone until it doesn't serve their needs any longer. It's selfish, and driven by arrogance.
Healthy relationships exist when people pour into one another's life with no strings attached. It's selfless and driven by love.
If you don't know how to spot the difference, there are key characteristics of a culture where relationships are healthy...and the exact opposite...where people's actions towards others are based on what they can extract from one another.
Unhealthy cues include (but are not limited to...)
Healthy cues include (but are not limited to...)
5. Unconditionally loving
Transactions are the appearance of friendship based on convenience. We are there for someone because we think they can do something for us now, or down the road. It's conditional love at all times. It comes with restrictions. It will put on the happy face, sing the song, and do the dance it needs to as long as it will come back in dividends later.
Building relationships is about the privilege of serving someone out of genuine love for them. It is being there for someone because of a deep and genuine care for them. It's unconditional love because it couldn't be any other way. No pretense. No judgement. A 24-7 commitment to do life with someone...through the ups, downs and in-betweens.
1. A culture of transactions can't sustain itself. Emotional bankruptcy will set in.
2. A culture of healthy relationships will create teams of influence because love wins.
3. Be option #2.
Having the best of intentions.
The mindset battle we are talking about today sounds like semantics.
The two are actually very different.
I said it the other day, and it bears repeating because it's so true.
The intentionality of our approach will impact our results.
Having the best of intentions means to get it done, but ultimately finds an excuse as to why it didn't. Intentionality prepares for it, and makes it happen.
Best of intentions puts lipstick on lazy and tries to call it amazing.
Having the best of intentions loves the appearance of being productive, but isn't. It usually sounds like this..."We would have won, but...", "I meant to, but...". The work needed to turn "would have" into "we did" isn't remotely attractive to someone who has the best of intentions. They want to see their name in lights, but don't understand you can't earn credit for something you never made a deposit into.
Intentionality wants accountability because it's a growth opportunity.
Being intentional means you aren't afraid to dig in and do the hard work of discovering what it takes to improve. You crave the details that bring that process to life, so that your team can have an edge on your competition. You understand that learning is part of the process, and eat up any chance you get to sit at that table.
Be intentional about learning so your team can keep growing.
Your team loses. During the game there is a sense that things happened that weren't fair. (An officials call/non-call, the weather, behavior of an opponent, etc...) It affected your team's ability to focus mentally and achieve the results you had hoped for. The next day comes and you want to be intentional about improving, but there is this sense that some of it just wasn't your team's fault. That frustration ("this isn't fair!") has created a distraction.
Being intentional brings accountability to the forefront, and the opportunity to grow from it to the table.
Team activity:(Do this first thing the day after a tough loss)
1. Grab a dry erase marker and find a wipe board on a wall. Ask your student athletes to call out every single thing they didn't think was fair about the game the previous day. As they share them, write them down on the board so everyone can see them.
2. Ask your team which ones they, and you, could have controlled.
3. Let go...what is outside your control.
4. Have a great practice focusing on what you can.
1. Put down the lipstick, and pick up a shovel. Do the hard work of being intentional.
2. Let your competition complain about "fair". Complaining is emotionally draining.
3. Learning from what was creates leverage for what is coming next.
Excuses vs. Decisions.
Excuses are emotional, preferential, and individual. Excuse makers look for a way out based on their need for security.
Decisions are intentional, relational, and cultural. Decision makers see the big picture when they are faced with adversity.
We tend to see these two foes square off when the chips are down, when a team is falling behind, or chaos of some sort has been ushered into their world.
Here is what they might sound like:
"I shouldn't have thought that, but..."
"I shouldn't have said that, but..."
"I shouldn't have done that, but..."
"I thought that because..."
"I said that because..."
"I did that because..."
Two words that mean more than we realize.
"But..." creates the excuse. "Because..." explains the decisions.
The teams that make excuses are uneasy and nervous when unchartered waters hit their boat. Their next move is often made based on how they are feeling in the moment. When emotions are running high, mistakes are made. Mistakes can be the breeding ground for...you guessed it...excuses. The recipe for a great excuse also adds in preference and individuality. Personal preference steers choices, as individuals fight to protect their image and place on the team. All of that adds up to people looking to divert attention to others, avoid taking responsibility, and find a way out of the discomfort. They are on constant look out for the fastest route to their personal security. To excuse makers, adversity isn't opportunity, it showcases their immaturity.
The teams that make decisions are steady and calm when rough ground is under their feet. They look around and calculate their next move based on who they are, where they are, and where they want to go. They knew they'd be in moments like this, and have prepared for it intentionally. Their next move is to honor the relationships that got them there...their leadership, their teammates, and the organization they are part of by making choices based on their core values...collectively. All of that combined has created who they are culturally. To decision makers, adversity isn't difficulty, it's opportunity.
1. Excuse makers are rattled when adversity hits, and cause a team to fracture.
2. Decision makers are committed to who they are and the big picture.
3. Healing a culture of fractures begins with a commitment to see the big picture.
4. The big picture is about building and honoring a healthy culture...with each choice.
There are two types of confrontation.
One creates resentment, the other builds a connection.
Here they are:
Confront the person.
Confront the issue.
Here is how the two might sound in action:
"You have a problem because you are constantly late. You need to fix it."
"You've been late a lot recently. We need to solve this."
Confront the person and they'll likely shut down.
Confront the issue and they are more likely to open up.
Put another way...
Ears don't open just because a mouth does.
Try making a withdrawal from an overdrawn bank account. It doesn't work. It's the same thing with our words. If we haven't developed the trust to speak into someone's life, the words won't mean anything.
How can we expect to build a person up by tearing them down simultaneously?
Build them up, and offer to help remove the issue collectively.
Confronting a person might get them to back down. They might even agree with everything we say. But...they are doing it so we'll stop. They are agreeing they want the confrontation to be over, not to taking the steps to correct the behavior. Why? Because we haven't helped them find any. We fixed it but we didn't solve it.
Confronting the issue allows for someone to trust us. They are far more likely to feel comfortable opening up to us. When that wall comes down, we can speak truth that will be received. It empowers them to take that seed, plant it, and be proud of the solutions that come from it.
1. Confronting the person creates a division within your team. (Yes...teammates talk)
2. Confronting the issue is an opportunity to build emotional equity.
3. Build the trust found in #2 and you'll find a culture people will flock to.
Fixing a problem.
Finding a solution.
The intentionality of our approach will impact our results.
It might sound like this in a team meeting...
"I found a problem that we need to fix."
"I came across a challenge today that I know our team can solve together."
The intentionality of our approach will impacts our results.
Fixing means something is broken. Tell a group of people something is broken, and the approach shifts to blaming. "It wasn't my fault." "It's not my job."
Solving brings people together. Tell a group of people they get to solve something together, and they feel valued as individuals who want to see their team win. "I've got your back." "How can I help?"
1. A culture of fixing and blaming isn't something people want to be part of.
2. A culture of solving and growing is contagious and builds momentum.
3. Be option #2.
Is our preference impacting our progress?
That question came as a thought to me as I woke up on Independence Day.
And then I wondered...
What if we all could experience Independence from preference?
Is all preference wrong? No, not at all. But the preference I'm speaking of here comes in the form(s) of self-placed obstacles, and self-induced frustration.
If we made a list of all of the things we prefer in life, I wonder how many of them we could truly do without. I wonder how many of them, once removed, would actually launch us forward in the pursuit of our dreams.
Preference is a subtle thief of contentment.
One smile at a time. One moment at a time. One conversation at a time. And slowly but surely, we see days, weeks, and months fly by as the best years of our life are littered with regret.
It's the kind of regret that is easy to forget, honestly.
Because preference can be a wolf in sheep's clothing.
We need this.
We deserve that.
We wish that...
I'm wondering if maybe it's time to shift gears a little.
To stop needing, thinking we deserve, or wondering about what we prefer, and start removing those obstacles from the path that is our calling.
Our calling will require sacrifices.
Our calling will require hard work.
Our calling will require focus.
It's entirely possible that if our calling doesn't seem clear, that something is blocking our line of sight.
If our vision seems cloudy, it might be time to do something about it.
If we are stuck, it might be time to do some heavy lifting.
It's one of the most freeing feelings in the world.
It turns a roadblock of frustration into an open road towards our destination.
That's the road trip of our dreams.
And it can be the road trip of our reality.
So why keep staring at the same obstacles?
Remove them, and take the trip.
It might be time to experience...
24 hours in a day.
23 posts written so far in May.
"...it MAY BE that..."
this last post being the 24th is symbolic, significant, or a combination of both.
If 24 hours complete a day, it's only fitting the 24th complete #TheMaybeClock.
I wish I could tell you I planned it that way. I wanted to write every day. I told myself I would. And I went 24 for 31. Along the way I found the need to take a day off a week. I chose Sunday to be that day. I have learned the value of rest if I truly want to be at my best.
So I guess I'm 28 for 31.
My consistency grade on this writing project would be an A-.
But here's the thing...
If I gave myself a grade based on how bad I beat myself up for missing the three days it would be far worse.
And that might be the biggest takeaway for me in this project.
We need to find joy in the process, not seek perfection as the only sign of progress.
What area of life are you tired of saying "MAYBE" to?
Is it something you need to pick up? Set aside? Go all-in on? Walk away from?
Whatever your story is, and wherever your journey takes you, I'll be praying that you find the courage and encouragement that you need to make the most of the 24 hours you are given each day.
Notice I said MAKE THE MOST OF.
You aren't going to be perfect.
No one is.
So as the last few moments tick away on the #TheMaybeClock, and a new project starts for me, I'll look forward to sharing from my heart the best way I know how.
And when I run out of steam on any given day I will leverage the lessons that I learned about my journey in writing #TheMaybeClock this month...
"...it MAY BE that..."
I need to stop and rest once in a while to be a better writer.
I need to be ok when perfect isn't the outcome.
Can you relate to those?
Rest + My Best = Progress.
I like that as the last thought from #TheMaybeClock.
Short, sweet, and easy to remember.
But...before we leave, I can't wait to tell you about our next series!
If you've ever felt set aside, forgotten about, or wondered if you were ever going to get the opportunity to live out what your heart has been beating out of your chest about...you know what it feels like to live life on "The Back Burner".
I've been there.
Still am in some aspects.
And when I see the company I'm in, I know that #TheBackBurnerLife wasn't meant to be a permanent destination, but rather one of the most important and epic parts of our journey through life.
More on that tomorrow.
There are moments in life when we need to follow the path, no matter how narrow, difficult, or dimly lit. We hit on that yesterday when we talked about "Staying The Course".
How do we handle the times when we have to chart a new course in life where there doesn't seem to be any path whatsoever?
That's another level of leadership altogether.
It requires a vision that no one else may see but you. But acting on vision alone is like trying to fill a bucket full of water with a hole in the bottom. It'll work initially, but we'll be out of resources eventually. And usually faster than we'd think.
Creating a new path requires the one-two punch of preparation and work.
Preparation is seeing the forest for the trees. Seeing the big picture before we ever paint a single brush stroke. This is where we begin with the end in mind. When we can see the final scene before taking our first step, we'll be better prepared to make sure our journey is carved out in a way that will help us get there.
We are well-served when we create a process for our progress.
It gives us something to measure our movement towards our desired destination.
Are we moving towards our ultimate goal, or just randomly moving in general? The former is progress. The latter is ineffective busyness.
We'll be less likely to become distracted by naysayers, doubters, and arm-chair quarterback opinions when we stick to our vision and the due diligence of our preparation. We'll know how to stay open to feedback from trusted sources, and ignore the preferences from the doubters. That's the difference between a critique and a critic.
Doing our homework ahead of time will help us avoid confusion along the way.
Find a rhythm you can walk to, and accountability that will keep you on track. Your drumbeat doesn't need to excite everyone, just the ones who believe in your vision. And having a crew of back-up singers who are there for you will help you stay on key.
Great leaders don't forge new paths by singing in whatever key they want whenever they want. They hear a song in their head, and they sing it over and over and over to anyone within ear shot. It's consistent. It's clear. It's in the same key every time. That attracts others who join in and support that vision...that song. They sing the harmonies, and lay down powerful choruses of support behind the lead singer...aka...their leader.
If you get part way into your journey and learn something new that informs you that your original plan was off a bit, adjust. Don't bury your head in the sand and act like you had to be perfect out of the gate all the way to the end. Stop the song and get back on key. Your followers will thank you. They'll admire the transparency and humility within you.
Great leaders that experience success will all tell you about the bumps and bruises they picked up a long the way. The key is they didn't quit. They got back up. They learned from their failures. They kept pressing on in the direction they knew to be their calling.
So when it's time to move in the direction of your calling, soak up this small reminder:
Do the hard work of preparation to create a path that will help you reach your destination. Map it out ahead of time. Check your coordinates as you go. Make sure the team of people closest to you knows what those coordinates are as well. Receive constructive feedback from those who understand your heart, vision, passion, and calling.
Were you waiting for a step by step guide on how to blaze your trail?
By now, I hope you realize that wasn't my attempt.
That would be a bit disingenuous.
I don't know your calling.
I don't know your heart.
I do know that the handful of reminders here will help you put the right people around you, start with a clear expectation of where you are headed to, and the encouragement to create the path that you are called to.
One last note...
Enjoy the journey my friend.
The destination is nice, but the lessons that last a lifetime are learned along the way.
They can't see the forest for the trees.
Have you ever heard that phrase before? It's likely you have. The point being that someone is so wrapped up in the details of something immediately in front of them that they cannot see the big picture all around them.
Now picture this...
Someone is walking along a path in the woods. The path is narrow and winding. The trees that line it are thick and dense. The person traveling on it can only make out the next few feet ahead of them at a time because of the lack of light. Each turn is a risk, because they can't see what will come next. They might be fine, or they might come face to face with a challenge that seems insurmountable.
The longer the journey takes the more frustrated the traveller becomes. Their eyes start to wander from the path to the trees next to them. They wonder what might happen if they start to create a new path. They begin to push back on the brush next to them. At first the steps away from the path that is worn before them are exciting. They are convinced that if they push straight through the brush, branches, and thorns long enough, they'll be better off.
Have you ever been there?
And then this...
Straight paths are often the illusion that leads us away from our destination.
When we can't see the forest for the trees we miss the gift of the path.
While we may not be able to see around every corner, it doesn't mean we should take matters into our own hands. Dimly lit is still lit. The view of a few feet is still better than complete darkness.
The big picture?
Staying the course isn't always easy, but if we want to make it our destination it's necessary. We think we can take matters into our own hands, when by doing so our strength runs out. We become lost. We get so far off the path, that doubling back to reset our course is a reminder of lost time, resources, and pride swallowed.
We could avoid having to double-back if we stayed all-in.
Are there times when we have to chart a new course in life where there doesn't seem to be any path whatsoever?
That's a story for another day.
We are talking about the known calling to follow the path we are on, and stay the course. To trade the presumptive preferences we fall in love with for the vision we said we would stay committed to. It won't always be easy. Some days will be extremely hard.
See the forest for the trees before you take the first steps of your journey.
There is a destination on the other side.
Taking matters into your own hands when you are tired will take you to a place where you are lost, exhausted, and crawling back to the point you left your path.
If you find yourself in that moment, resist the urge to let your pride win. Run back. Walk back. Crawl back. Do whatever you can to get back on your path. Learn from the detour, and use it as a reminder. Don't let the lure of straight lines convince you that just because your journey gets narrow, winding, and dark that you should leave it.
If the road you are on is well lit and wide, it's likely it's an overcrowded path.
If the road ahead seems lonely, it might just be that you are leading.
Leading doesn't always have cheerleading along the way.
See the big picture.
Stay the course.
Trust the vision.
And when you do come out of the other side?
Celebrate the focus it took to reach your destination, and rest up.
There are more roads to travel.
And can I make one last observation?
Look for the narrow ones.
"...it MAY BE that..."
The narrow roads lead to the biggest opportunities.
More on that tomorrow.