Posts tagged ‘discovery’
I am pulled in too many directions at work. Maybe you can relate. One minute I’m in a meeting about fundraising appeals, the next minute it’s a brochure for the MBA program, and then there is the alumni magazine, science building campaign, campus signage (ick!), website, the latest video production, and 100 other jobs our office is working on. And don’t get me started on the barrage of emails.
I was bemoaning my dilemma to my boss the other day, and he asked a simple question: “What can you do to get out of the way and let your staff step into some of the roles you are filling?”
I must admit that I tend to have a strong sense of self-importance – if I’m not involved, something is bound to be missed. I am the one with the “big picture.” I can protect my staff from the mean people. If I give up CONTROL, everything might just implode.
You don’t have to tell me twice – well, ok, maybe you do.
One of my staff members recently kindly let me know that my helpfulness was impeding her ability to be effective and efficient. I typically serve as the go-between between my graphic designers and our internal clients. I thought I was saving her from the headaches of the back and forth. In the end, she had to interpret my interpretation of the client meetings. She had to wait for me to call the clients with questions. I had taken away her ability to manage her own projects.
Training up of the 12 disciples
We don’t have to look too far to see a model for how to handle this sort of leadership challenge. Consider how Jesus went about training his disciples. For the first several months, the disciples followed Jesus around and observed him. Through their observations, they learned about priorities (prayer and time with the Father); they learned how to have boundaries (not healing everyone); they learned how to respond with compassion to sinful people and to question the status quo of the religiosity of the day. They were with Jesus, sitting at his feet and learning best practices, so to speak.
When the time came, Jesus took off the training wheels and gave the disciples all of the authority they needed to do their work. They had the power to cast out demons and to heal the sick. Their first assignments were local, and Jesus was still nearby to help if they needed Him. They had all the tools, guidance, and vision necessary to take on their leadership roles. In the end, they were fully equipped to act on their own after Jesus had been crucified.
Training up your team
In this same way, I need to make sure my team is equipped. They need time to observe me and get a sense of what they will be doing on their own. They need a vision. They need me to get out of the way and let them act on their own with full authority for the work to be done. Only then will they gain the confidence they need to take on more and more responsibility. This is the only way to know their real capacity for leadership.
Yes, some people might not step into their new roles with grace. They may stumble. They may actually realize that they really don’t have the capacity to do more than what they are doing. But others might surprise you and step up in ways that you would have never imagined. It’s not until you get out of the way that you will ever really know.
If you left your organization, would everything fall apart because you have not prepared your team members to succeed you? Are there people you are holding back because you are a control freak? Are there higher order things you could be doing if you just got out of the way and let others step up to the task?
I have a dear friend I see once a year. Every time we get together, she talks excitedly about how she and her husband believe God is “calling” them. Year after year, however, I discover that they haven’t taken any action because they aren’t clear on “exactly” what they should do in the area where they feel their call. Years have gone by now, and they are right where they started.
Advice around the idea of calling often sounds like this: “Discover you!” While this seems simple, its lack of clarity paralyzes some people. They are afraid of taking a wrong step because they have to do everything perfectly. Seriously, it can be downright stressful to believe that we are on this earth for a specific purpose.
If you can identify with my friend, the following two operating principles might help. Read more over at The High Calling of Our Daily Work.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share this online, but what the heck, I have never held back before. I had an opportunity to give a talk at the quarterly staff chapel at Point Loma Nazarene University (where I work). It was a personal talk about what I learned about having a dream for your life after my dad passed away.
I hope you will get to know me even better by hearing some personal stories about my dad and me. The powerpoint I used was mainly photos. You can’t see them in the video, so I’m linking to them here.
Go to the 20-minute video: http://vimeo.com/11745819
I have not kept my new year’s resolution to blog weekly. I’m trying! But I am keeping another resolution to do more public speaking (for which preparing has pulled me away briefly from writing). So instead of a blog post tonight, I wanted to share a recent talk I did at an inaugural faith and work event at Emmanuel Faith Community Church.
This talk gets at the heart of my faith and work connection obsession. We need a few zealots, right? Enjoy!
Also, here is the powerpoint if you want to follow along. Powerpoint presentation
I’d love your feedback on other ideas you would want to hear about as I start to do more talks.
What began as a catch-up coffee with two important women in my life turned into a discussion about needs. And no, I’m not going to go all Maslow on you right now. It’s actually a fairly messy topic if you think about it. Basic needs might be defined as food and clothing. But as humans with hearts and desires and feelings, do we have other needs that must be met if life is not to feel empty? Do we have the right to have expectations of those closest to us?
One of the women at the coffee shared that her life was being turned upside down after many years of putting others before her and not considering her own needs. Really every area of her life was unfrozen.
She had been living by the mantra that we need to die to self. To put others before us. To not think of ourselves higher than we ought. Aren’t we sinners who deserve nothing anyway? We were never promised happiness in this life, right?
What we have if we live by these mantras alone is suppressed passions and unrealized potential with a big dose of guilt to boot. The other side of the coin is that God created us with desire, passion, hopes, and dreams. And if we don’t pay attention to what our needs are in relation to these things, we will wake up in mid-life and feel squelched.
This friend challenged us two younger women to figure out what our needs were before we ended up in the same place she was in. I don’t know that I have actually sat down and written down my own needs or the people in my life who can help meet those needs. Part of me deep down wonders if I even have a right to have needs that I expect can be met outside of Christ alone. But the truth is that we were created for relationship. It’s in community that our needs are met – be it a group of coworkers, a small group of friends, a family, a spouse.
As I thought about what I need from others, things like freedom to be authentic came up. I have a really - let’s just say distinctive – laugh, and I can usually gauge how authentic people are willing to let me be based on their reaction to my laugh. Other needs I identified include compassion, challenge, generosity, and stability.
As I look at my list, I’m thinking maybe these things are really values as much as they are ‘needs.’ Perhaps when values are not connecting in your relationships, your needs are not being met. Either way, it’s an interesting process to think about the people in your life who provide for these needs. It also might be painful to think about the people close to us who don’t. Possible unhealthy relationships that need to change or end.
And then sometimes there are individuals who need you and have nothing to give in return. That’s actually ok because you may have other relationships that fulfill you. But when meeting needs turns to co-dependency, I’d run the other way – or at least straight to the therapist’s office. You need to decide on your non-negotiables.
Even within a healthy community, there are competing needs, an inability to meet needs, and a misunderstanding of needs. This is where the power of the Gospel can really provide restoration and renewal in our broken relationships. But like I said earlier, it’s still messy.
I sucked my thumb until third grade. And no, not just in private like some lucky kids. I was shy as a little girl. And I’ve been relatively shy ever since. But get me up in front of a crowd talking about something that excites me, and you would never imagine that there is a shy little girl inside.
Even as a kid, I would get up in church to read the Christmas story or lead the liturgy, and the little old people would come up to me afterwards and tell me how much they appreciated how nice and clear I had spoken (I’m sure it helps that I inherited grandpa’s loud voice). Even today, anytime I have to do an announcement or give a presentation, people almost always come up and tell me something that makes me think I’m a pretty darn good speaker. This blog post is actually inspired by the encouragement I received after a talk I gave last Sunday to an Entrepreneuring for Christ Sunday school class at Skyline Church. It’s so affirming that our strengths can often be seen early on in life and that God brings people into our lives to help name them.
Unexpected gifts are so cool. God knit us together so creatively in the womb (Psalm 139). When there is an anomaly in how the world would expect us to turn out, I think it’s an extra special reminder that we are God’s creation and that the gifts are from Him alone. I love that my friends who know me well point out how odd it is that a crowd avoider like me loves to be in front of a crowd.
The gifts are from God, and so are the desires to use these gifts for a purpose.
My own life is evidence that the core of who we are and who we are meant to be will keep tugging at us even though we may take a strange path to get to where we are going. Every time I do one of those exercises that asks what I would be if money were no object, I inevitably land on motivational speaker. Years ago, I even went as far as to do an informational interview with a successful motivational speaker; I lost momentum when she told me I really need to write a book. And I lose momentum every time I think about how much energy it would take this introvert to actually be a speaker. And then there’s the fact that I don’t see a logical path to actually becoming a legitimate speaker.
But deep down I feel a sense of responsibility to be the person God created me to be. I want to be faithful with the gifts He has bestowed. God gives us the desires of our hearts – desires to serve the world with the best of who we are. We know from the parable of the talents that we are to do the most with what we have been given.
How on Earth I will end up living out my love for public speaking is a bit of a mystery. It will be interesting to see how God directs my path. I’m sure it will be an adventure. I know that God wants to use me for His glory, and so I will put my faith in His grace and power - and I will do my part to put myself out there and follow my heart.
Oliver Wendall Holmes is often quoted as saying, “The biggest tragedy in America is not the great waste of natural resources, though this is tragic. The greatest tragedy is the waste of human resources. The average person goes to his grave with the music still in him.”
What dream do you have in your heart that just will not go away? What music still needs to be shared with the world?
Side note: I hope no one reading this post ever sees me speak and thinks, “Really, she thinks she’s a good speaker.”
Side note number 2: Since I suspect a handful of parents will find this post googling strategies to get their kids to stop sucking their thumbs, I’ll tell you my secret. It was Mrs. Neeley, my third grade teacher, who made a deal with me that if I would stop sucking my thumb, she would stop biting her nails. I think she finally succumbed to acrylic.