I have a friend, his name is Bill, but we call him Yoda because he comes out of nowhere with amazing bits of wisdom. One particular nugget has stayed with me for years. In response to talking about young leaders, he said, “The problem with many young leaders is they don’t think there is enough success available in the world for everyone.” Meaning, we’re prone towards jealousy, excited to celebrate our own growth but hesitant to celebrate the accomplishments of others because they might steal our success.
Is your growth, or the growth of your organization, stunted? Do you feel like your mission is paralyzed? Does everything feel static and uninspired?
Maybe your growth hit a rocky patch, causing you to feel withered or choked out. Maybe you just feel stuck in one of these areas of your life: spiritually, emotionally, financially, organizationally or relationally. You woke up one morning and realized nothing is changing for the better, and nothing has changed for a while.
There are some clear warning signals we send out when we’re stuck. I’ve seen these in my own life and leadership and offer them in the hope they may help you get unstuck. See if any of the seven following pitfalls are true of your current situation.
Martin Luther famously stated “Sin is the self bending in on the self.” A fruitless cycle we find ourselves in, much like a dog chasing its own tail. When “self” is the motivation and goal, we run and run and only ever end up with something less than what we’re after.
This is exactly the problem. We chase so many things for our own personal gain, and if/when we finally get them, it doesn’t actually fulfill us. Even if we think we’ve arrived and reached that long pursued goal, it doesn’t last long as something newer and shinier lies along the horizon.
Vision. It’s a tricky thing.
Extremely important, yet sometimes elusive and hard to pin down.
Without it, an organization is lost. But with competing visions, an organization is doomed to frustration. One person says to go left and another says to go right, and it doesn’t take long for everyone to be confused. Vision and clarity have to be driven by the senior leaders of the organization. Those with the authority and responsibility need to set the course and direction for everyone to follow.
BUT, vision also needs to be fostered from the bottom up. A healthy organization draws the best out of its people and creates an environment for them to dream and add momentum to the vision.
“I don’t care.”
One of the most dangerous comments people – and especially leaders – can make.
We’ve all had those situations where we’re juggling a million things, and someone comes up and asks yet another question, or has yet another idea, and the knee-jerk response is “I don’t care, figure it out.”
The real truth is: leaders do care.
The whole world is talking about Jesus this weekend, so I figured I would too.
For those who don’t believe in God: I’d encourage you to take some time over the next few days to consider Jesus. Take this opportunity to think deeply about who he is and who he said he was. Answering this question is the most important thing you’ll do your whole life.
For the Christian: stop and sit for a moment, and think about who you were before you met Jesus. Where were you living? What were you doing with your life? What did you believe about life and God? What motivated you? How did you spend your time? Who were your friends?
For me it’s a scary thought. I grew up in Montana with a pretty messy life that was far from God. I lived for the approval of others and for pleasure. I was my own god. I probably would’ve called myself a Christian, but my life would’ve said otherwise.
When I moved to Seattle, I started attending church with my older sister and her family. I came for all the wrong reasons: to feel morally upright, to meet a girl, and frankly because I didn’t have any friends yet and didn’t know what else to do.
This post is adapted from my upcoming book Change.
There are good and bad ways to grow.
As an organization, are you relying on truth to inspire growth? Or are you shortcutting truth with parlor tricks and distracting devices to give it that steroid jolt—things that actually detract from your mission rather than add to them?
It’s almost tax day, have you finished yours yet? I don’t like dealing with taxes so I tend to put it off until the last minute. We just submitted ours to the accountant today, narrowly hitting his deadline for getting them done by April 15th.
My wife Crystal and I have long sought after the best way to manage our personal finances together. It wasn’t automatic and is an area that we’re continually striving to do better with. Loaded or broke, money is one of those things that kills marriages. I’ve read some places that money problems are one of the most cited reasons that couples get divorced. Maybe you’re not headed for divorce, but are you stressed out, anxious, and constantly arguing about money in your marriage?
Speed and Stability are both necessary, whether you are completing a project, building a leadership team, managing organizational momentum, or participating in an athletic competition.
Some of us are motivated by passion to prioritize speed over stability. Others are hesitant to move too fast, perhaps out of fear, and err on the side of being too cautious.