Derek Sivers put this together as a TED talk. Sometimes the first follower is just as important as the leader!
Archive for the 'leadership' Category
Are you making a difference or just doing what everyone else is doing? Leading is having influence. Are you using that influence to make this world a better place? To bring people to Jesus Christ? To help those in need? Are you doing something that God has ordained you specifically to do or are you just doing what you do because everyone else is doing it? Be a difference maker! Following the crowd is easy, making the world a better place isn’t…but it is much more fulfilling!
I have a friend who is a CPA, has some kind of nursing certification, and then went back to school to become a massage therapist. He prays over every patient as he gives them the massage. While it is completely a “for profit” business, it is also his ministry. Another friend takes people out raccoon hunting. Yes, raccoon hunting. One day he felt the Lord asking him if he would give the raccoon hunting to HIM. He thought it was crazy, but prayed, “Lord, I give you the raccoon hunting.” After that, it became his ministry. He realized that while out in the woods for 6-8 hours at night listening to the hounds chasing the raccoons, there was time to talk. When he brings up God and the beauty of HIS creation, etc. The person can’t make a quick excuse and leave…they are pretty much a captive audience. He shares his testimony with his “customers”. Sometimes, they may not get a raccoon, but he leads them to the Lord out in the middle of the woods! Those are successful hunt nights! What is your ministry?
In the book The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, the first line is “It is not about you”. As leaders, this is even more important to remember. It isn’t about us. We must be constantly working ourselves out of a job by forming up leaders who will step into our shoes, take over parts of our ministry, and not only replace us, but go above and beyond what we ever dreamed possible. If we aren’t training up those leaders, what we end up with is the second generation blah blah blah movement. Churches are a great example. Think of a dying church in your area, every community has one. There are 5-15 people attending, it hasn’t grown in years and the congregation is literally dying off of old age. That church didn’t start that way! Someone had a great vision for your community! They got out there and did the hard work! They spread the gospel and reached people for the Lord! The church grew, built a building and loved on lots of people with the love of Jesus…then that leader moved or died. The next generation just did what the leader had done, but not quite as well, and without quite as much enthusiasm. Passion for God was replaced with “That is the way we have always done it.” …and the church began to die. Train up great leaders so that when you are gone, they continue with the passion for the dream God has given you!
Some people think that they can’t be leaders because they haven’t been given a platform. We don’t have to be in charge to be leaders. I am not talking about undermining the authority of those above you in your organization, but we can lead from within, and we can begin new ventures. You don’t need someone’s permission to start. I am a teacher, I answer to a department chair, who has a dean, who has a vice president who answers to the president who answers to the board of directors. Everyone has someone in charge of them, but we also have our area to lead. Even my students can be leaders by working to be the top of the class and influencing others to be better students. I can lead by being a more creative teacher, inspiring students and then sharing that information with other teachers. You can lead in your field too! People are desperate for someone to take the initiative and lead them…why not you?
Each year, I learn more about putting in flowers and plants. My wife is an avid gardener. The first year, I thought I was being helpful by putting down a load of mulch before we had done any other prepwork to an area we wanted to put a garden in. It looked pretty good! All nice and mulch covered. But guess what? If you don’t first prepare the soil, get rid of the weeds and grass, put down a weed barrier etc. then you are just covering up the problem rather than dealing with it. It was of course a disaster. The next year, we did all the right prep work, and now have a beautiful garden area that doesn’t need a whole lot of continued care!
In leadership, we have problems that arise. We can cover it up with something that looks pretty for the short run, but eventually, the issues will come to the light of day and we will have to deal with them. Dig in, get the hard work done, and later, you can really enjoy the fruit of your labor rather than it being a constant issue that you keep trying to cover up.
One of the qualities that leaders have is that they are passionate about their idea/belief/philosophy. No one wants to follow a leader who is ho hum or wishy washy. If you aren’t passionate about what you are leading, get out and let someone else lead who is. Then find what you are truly passionate about and begin leading that instead!
I have been teaching now for going on 15 years. Not a lifetime yet, but long enough to feel like I sort of know my way around the classroom. Student evaluations seem to suggest that I am a decent educator. So, here is my problem. I want to talk myself right out of my current job. We use this factory model set up by the industrial age to make students literate and teach them to show up on time, do the work asked, not make trouble, listen to bells so they know when to start, stop or eat lunch. In today’s world, Wikipedia, which is edited by everyone, is just as accurate as any encyclopedia and has many more entries. The internet isn’t about just publishing stuff, it is about people being interconnected. I admit that much of that connection is banal chatter, but in the midst of that chatter, there is a wealth of both stagnant knowledge and flowing knowledge. What I mean by those terms is that you can quickly look up who the 4th president of the United States was, or what is a quadratic equation which would be stagnant or static knowledge…it doesn’t change. Flowing knowledge would be things like facebook, twitter, chat features and even comments on blogs that can lead to people finding out about disasters hours before any news coverage breaks. People can send a facebook status update from their cell phone even when the power is out because a tornado hit to let their family and friends all know that they are OK or that the first tower at the World Trade Center had just been hit by a plane.
Students in the current generation still need to be taught! The problem is that they are used to having all these tools to keep them interconnected with the rest of the world, and then when they come to school, we tell them to turn off their cell phones, put up their laptop, sit still and pay attention in an environment that is bluntly put, much more conducive to boredom than to learning. Most of us, and I include myself in this category, got our degrees before the internet was invented. Many of my colleagues typed their dissertation on a typewriter…though at least it was most likely an electric one. We learned in the environment that we teach in, so we assume that the student should too. There must be something wrong with the kids if they can’t learn this way.
This summer, I plan to do some experiments in my classroom…or out of it at times. I hope to use the phones and laptops, create together, blog, tweet, make a wiki etc…and either, the whole experiment will go horridly wrong and a bunch of poor Spanish IV students shall rue the day they chose to sign up for my class, or it shall be a crazy and wild time full of learning in an environment that more closely resembles the world in which we really live in. I will be sure to keep you updated.
As Christian leaders, our primary job is to help people through the door from death to life as they meet our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In our organizations, businesses and churches, are we opening other doors for people or are we closing them? How well is your organization set up for people to participate, grow in leadership, move up the ladder, etc? We need to make a conscious effort to be on the look out for talent and then help them open the doors in their life.
Nancy Reagan promoted the phrase “Just say ‘no’” as a campaign to help teens avoid drug addiction. As leaders, people often come in asking for things. Sometimes it is our time, or resources, knowledge etc. It is important to set our priorities so that we can focus on what is most important rather than just what is being asked of us at the moment. It feels good to say “yes” and it makes you much more popular, and it is often hard to say “No” to something that seems like a good idea. We must weigh whether that idea is really something important on our list of priorities or if it is just a distraction from achieving the goals that God has given us. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is “Just say ‘No’”.