Take a good look at this picture.
In a minute...I'm going to ask you to look at it again.
For now...let's talk about the title of this blog post today.
How do you handle a question you don't have an answer to?
Questioning and doubt aren't a sign of weakness,
they are an indicator someone on your team is searching for their purpose.
You can either embrace them in that moment,
and encourage them to seek,
or become their weakness by dismissing their feelings.
It won't be good enough to say later (when they've left)..."I had the best of intentions".
I'm asking you as a leader, to choose intentionality.
Choose to live in a space where you may not have an immediate answer, but you can offer immediate comfort and encouragement by simply listening.
When you place the value on relational connection, you see the value in the question.
And when the timing is right the question will get answered. For both of you.
Their doubt isn't a weakness, it's an opportunity for you to lead well.
Choose the person. Embrace the question.
Trust the journey...and the timing of an answer.
Then...and only then, will you see the question mark as a footprint.
Look at the picture again.
Do you see it from another perspective, now?
The willingness to walk with your team when they question, rather than walk on them because of your need to be right...be in charge...snuff out all questions.
That makes you an authentic leader...
who will earn a devoted following.
Passion: If you aren't bleeding the vision of your organization, how can you expect anyone on your team to? Actually…I once heard it said that "the leader has to hemorrhage in order for the people that follow to bleed". Sounds kinda gross…but makes a great point. You can't sit back and send your team to the front lines to fight for you all day as you sit in your silk robe in a castle far away. Roll your sleeves up…teach them, speak into them, go with them…show them the way.
Patience: There will be days when it feels like you are on a treadmill instead of an actual run where you can see progress. Everything seems stationary at best. If you lose your noodle in frustration in this moment, you'll lose your people in indifference soon. Instead, realize that the "treadmill days" are still doing something very important. They are creating a culture of endurance. Even though you can't see progress today, you are preparing people who are willing to keep running anyway. That is a culture that will be ready for a marathon on a moments notice.
Persistence: This is beyond treadmill time. This is when the treadmill is broken, coffee pot breaks, half your team is late and the other half is playing candy crush on their phones. If you get to this point, it's time to hit mental rewind as the leader. Go back to day one and ask yourself "WHY did I start this?" Not in a pity party kind of way, but in an honest, heart-level look at your purpose. Once you've dialed into that, go back to leading with passion and preparing to be persistent to do whatever you need to do to get your team back on track.
These 3 leadership reminders aren't magic fairy tale dust. Leading always requires hard work, consistency, transparency, authenticity, and a willingness above all else to be teachable.
Grab on to these 3 things as a quick mental exercise to see if where you are, is where you should be. If it is, way to go! Keep at it! If not, now you've got a little nudge to take care of what needs to be fixed. Get at it!
As always…thanks for stopping by! It's always humbling to know you chose to be here. I appreciate your time, and wish you all the best as you lead your team…wherever you may be!
"Just give me fair warning".
Many times, what that really means is this:
"If I had only known sooner,
I could have done something about it".
The fact is, many times we did.
We knew much sooner.
We just chose to ignore it.
Don't get me wrong…
Are there times when things hit us without warning that we couldn't do anything about with even the best preparation? Yes. There are always exceptions to the rule.
But I've never met someone, (myself included), who should be truly shocked at the outcome of a situation when we had the ability to alter it.
So as you start your week, look around.
Are you doing what you can, with what you have, where you are?
Are you begging people to help you be lazy (asking for "fair warning"),
or preparing like you'll never need one, (embracing "without warning)?
"Fair warnings" are for those who enjoy sitting down until they have to stand up.
"Without warnings" are for the rest who are prepared because they're already moving.
It's the difference between doubting things will turn out well,
and knowing you've done all that you can.
We want a life that gives us "fair warning",
We need to be better prepared
so we are ready for "without warning".
JFK nailed it with this quote...
"The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining".
SO...Do the hard work early so you can watch the rain in your living room through your window, not feel it on your head.
How to have engaging conversations that connect you, not uncomfortable confrontations that divide you.
They all share the same commonality.
It's a daily struggle for all of us to communicate with those closest to us, avoiding the collision of emotions that causes those people to feel far from us.
Try this little exercise to reset your perspective...
You have two ears and one mouth,
so listen twice as much as you speak.
You have two eyes and one mouth,
see things from someone else's perspective before sharing your own.
You have two feet and one mouth,
walk in someone else's shoes before telling them why your way is better.
You have two hands and one mouth,
serve someone with them before you serve yourself by speaking.
You have two knees and one mouth,
your posture to kneel in the presence of God matters more than
posturing yourself as someone who knows it all by speaking too quickly.
As the old saying goes…
I'd rather be wrong and keep my mouth shut ,
than open it...act like a fool, and remove all doubt.
As you navigate all of your relationships today look for the opportunity to do almost anything first, and speaking second. You'll connect better with people around you. They'll sense you care for them.
Together you will gain access to a level of trust in your relationship that previously went untapped.
That's how we end up having engaging conversations that connect our relationships,
rather than uncomfortable conversations that place a division between us.
The first is about the value we place on the people around us,
the latter when we make it all about us.
That's a perspective that will bring joy.
That's an opportunity to live a life of purpose, on purpose.
That's a reminder I need., everyday.
I hope it's a reminder that is an encouragement to you today, wherever you may be…
to help you get to wherever you may be going.
Have a GREAT day!
Thank you for stopping by the blog.
It's an honor you chose to spend some of your valuable time here.
You've been asked to do something incredibly important,
but fear it won't work out in the end?
You've been incredibly inconvenienced,
because this moment wasn't something you had planned for?
You've been confronted with an easy way out,
knowing full well it won't end well?
There will come a time in your life when you will come face to face with something of great importance. But that won't be the challenge. That is found in the fact that it will be inconvenient, unknown, and have a built in escape hatch if you want out.
You'll come face to face with a life altering decision.
And here is the rub…
It will likely not have as much to do with you as you think.
It will very likely have to do with your ability to effect positive change in the lives of others.
Are you ready for that?
Have you decided ahead of time how you will respond to that moment?
We will all face a "WHAT HAPPENS WHEN?" moment in our lives.
Maybe more than one.
So the next time you are feeling the weight of great importance and inconvenience,
think twice before you take the easy way out.
It's very likely a legacy moment for you.
It's very likely a game changer for those around you.
Don't say no to the challenge, because you don't know what will happen.
Perhaps it's time to double down,
and beat "logic"…
I remember the day well. It was in May of 2000. I drove her to a beautiful creek where I would "pop the question". I didn't want to give away where we were going. I wanted to surprise her. I blindfolded her for the ride, which almost turned out to be a disaster. Turns out that can evoke motion sickness. Luckily the drive wasn't too long.
When we arrived I asked her to take my arm and I began to lead her through a wooded and windy path to our destination. As we got closer you could hear music (I had planted it there ahead of time). It was Jim Brickman. That tends to get the romantic mood all taken care of.
At this point I proceeded to get on my knee in the middle of a creek rushing past our feet on a warm spring evening. I shared that from this moment forward I couldn't go forward without her. But I knew that the only way to guarantee that was to intentionally ask her to join me permanently on this journey we call life.
Thankfully she said yes, and a little over 14 years later life is good. Actually, better than I ever could have imagined. Three great kids, one incredible wife, and a life together as a family that I wouldn't trade for the world.
So why am I sharing this story with you?
Something hit me today.
The only way my story worked was because I was intentional
about asking one simple question.
Will you marry me?
It's a commitment thing. It's a once you do this, there is no going back. It's a you better be serious, because this is for keeps. It's all good…but it's also all-in!
Even though I wanted to be engaged to Cara, it wasn't going to happen accidentally.
I had to ask.
And the more I thought about that concept I see it applying
to many people in many other areas of life.
We want to be in better shape, but we can't do it accidentally.
We want to be better informed about an idea, but we can't do it accidentally.
We want to be in a healthy relationship, but we can't do it accidentally.
We want a better job, but we can't do it accidentally.
We want to pursue something that will change our life, but we can't do it accidentally.
And because we can't do any of these things accidentally,
we need to be real about them.
The only way we can deal with them is to
make the decision to intentionally act on them.
We have to "pop the question" to ourselves.
We have to move from just liking being married to the idea,
to being engaged to the process first.
When Cara said "yes", it started a process.
We began to make plans for our wedding.
We were moving forward, together, on a whole other level.
And it's the same for whatever it is in your life that you want to move forward with.
You'll need to make the commitment to be "engaged" today.
You'll need to understand engagement is a process.
And at the end of the day,
every decision you make will honor this commitment you've made.
And over time, at some point, you'll cement your commitment with an "I do".
We have a little saying, Cara and I, that comes out when I am overwhelmed at how blessed I am to be married to my best friend. Something will happen. It can be as simple as walking by her and seeing her face. It can be the result of something funny our kids do. Whatever triggers it, here is what happens…
I look at Cara and say this…
"Thanks for saying YES!"
At which point she will look at me with a smile and say…
"Thanks for asking".
You have to ask.
You can't get accidentally engaged.
Not to your spouse.
And not to your calling.
And one last thing. I talked a lot about great things that you may want to pursue. This works the same for things you may need to separate yourself from. If you are struggling with something, you can't accidentally give it weight in your life. You either choose to become engaged to it and the negative influence it has in your life, or you separate from it.
Just like you can't get accidentally engaged to great things in your life,
it works the same for negative things.
I hope this encourages you today.
Find the wrong things, and separate yourself from them.
Find the right things…
and get engaged.
Put The Hay Away!
You've heard the phrase "It's like looking for a needle in a haystack" many times.
The phrase itself is basically admitting defeat. It's too hard. You'll never find it.
But what if it's as simple as reversing our train of thought?
Stop looking for the needle, and put away the hay.
Seriously…you aren't going to find the needle by tossing the hay around randomly until it appears. But if you commit to systematically "putting away the hay" a little bit at a time?
The only thing left will be the very thing you wanted all along.
I don't know what your "needle" is.
And I don't know what the "hay" is that is keeping you from finding it.
I do know that if you
do what you can, with what you have, where you are…
You'll find the needle faster than you think.
That is how you get "IT" done.
Have you ever felt stuck?
I mean the good-ole' fashioned "paralysis by analysis" kind of stuck. If you have, then you are in some pretty good company. We've all been there.
"Paralysis by analysis" is the enemy of progress.
Don't give into it.
Plow through it…
with these 5 tips on how to choose well.
1. Leverage your past experiences: Turn around and stare the options you have in front of you. Ask yourself which ones will enable you to teach from your past experiences so that you multiply your future growth. Teach from what you know.
2. Leverage your current platform: Stop wishing you were someone else, with more contacts, followers or admirers. Start doing what you can, with what you have, where you are. Turn the door knob on the opportunity that allows you to be you, and walk away from the ones where you are trying to be someone else.
3. Double down on commitment: Walk towards the option that allows you to invest your efforts into what you believe in. No matter how attractive, resist the choice that has the potential to make you easily distracted.
4. Leverage your propensity to act: Something makes you want to get up everyday. What is it? Chase it. Do everything you can to make time for it. Any other door you choose is a combination of distraction from your calling and depletion of the energy you have to offer anything you put your effort into.
5. Go all in: Finally, choose the door that you will give 100% of who you are to. That doesn't mean you need to know all the answers now, just that you will give all you have ahead of time, to make it happen all the time.
These 5 things should make turning the right knob a little easier, so that the hard work of doing something meaningful is empowering…not exhausting.
Enjoy the journey, my friend!
Until next time,
Eventually your team is going to face difficult moments.
And as crazy as this may sound, it could even be an indicator you are about to accomplish something incredible as a result.
There is a fine line between that being the case, and chaos being the result instead.
Here is another way to look at it...
When something gets hard, our nature is to do these 5 things.
1. Look for the excuse
Give up because you didn't have a vision guiding you.
Giving up for the vision so that hard moments energize you.
2. We make the excuse
Give up because it's just too hard to do.
Giving up our personal preference to honor what we do.
3. Act like it’s no big deal
Give up because our approach didn't work.
Giving up our resources to double down on building stronger relationships.
4. Make it all about ourselves
Give up because of pride.
Giving up so humility could take root.
5. Lash out at others
Give up and walk away because we think we know better.
Giving up our wants to create an environment that takes care of others needs.
Have you seen the difference yet?
When we GIVE UP it's all about excuses, whining, comfort, stuff, and pride.
When we change our posture to GIVING UP it's all about decisions, sacrifice, relationships, humility and service.
The next time your team faces a challenge,
look at these 5 things, and ask yourself one question…
Are we about to GIVE UP,
or are we willing to start GIVING UP?
It's the difference between quitting and conquering,
stopping and doubling-down,
throwing in the towel and going all-in.
"You've got to create healthy boundaries."
You must do this so that things that appear attractive don't become habits that are destructive.
Let's go swimming for a minute. At first, it's a lot of fun. One stroke at a time. The view is great, the water refreshing. Then something starts to happen. Our arms tire, our breathing becomes more labored. And in a moment, what we are sure will be there to help us catch our breath is not any longer. We go to put our feet down on solid ground to stand, and we can't feel it.
We've gotten out so deep in the water,
we are in over our head.
Work. Home. Relationships. Ministry. It can happen in all of these places. Our best of intentions can get us in situations we should never have had to encounter.
So how do we avoid this part of chaos?
Just like the buoy line in the picture above tells us we need to turn around, we need limits in place in our work, families, relationships and churches. Candidly…there are just some places that some people are not equipped to go.
As a leader it's your job to identify them, articulate them clearly, and set your people up for success within your organization.
As a follower it's your job not to rock the boat and pitch a fit when you don't understand. Many times you won't be able to "see the difference". In other words, you won't know if the water is 4 feet or 44 feet deep. So you will keep swimming. You'll insist "you are fine". And at some point, it may end in a tragic situation.
Listening to and honoring the leadership over you may be the very thing that will protect you.
Separating what looks the same isn't easy, and not everyone is called to do it. But those that are need to be listened to.
(Insert why it's so important that parents stop trying to be their kid's "best friends" all the time here. Just lead well!)
That's how you can make sure that something that looks attractive doesn't become a habit that is destructive.
You avoid deep waters that will overtake you by trusting the vision set before you.
Are there times when the boundaries need to be pushed so that your team can get to where they need to go? Absolutely. But that is never done by just diving in and rushing into the unknown. It's done out loud, in advance, with intentional preparation so that you can get where your team needs to go safely.
Leaders are leaders for a reason. If you are under one that casts vision, and leads by careful influence to get everyone someplace special…together…congrats. That's a cool place to be. And if you are a leader, don't let this go to your head. It's your responsibility to get everyone there safely. Your pride has no place in that process.
If, on the other hand, you are in a situation where orders are barked out, and you stay on the shore forever…there isn't anything wrong with having a conversation. Talk it out. Share your concerns. And then make decisions that are healthy.
But please, don't just jump in and start swimming to prove a point. The point you prove may end up being you in over your head. And that's not any place you are called to.
Turning chaos into order
starts with intentionality.
It starts with setting healthy boundaries.
Embrace them so that you can get where you are going with a purpose, on purpose…to make a difference in the world around you.
Part 3 is coming soon!
Here is what we'll tackle.
3. You've got to create systems and structure. You must do this so that you can multiply your progress in a healthy environment.
See you all soon!
From the desk of our founder, Brett W. Gould.