The Unfortunate Fight to Fit In

the unfortunate fight to fit inAre you trying to fit in? Believe me, it can be exhausting. Always promoting, always proving, always pushing…just to get into that spot where others recognize your significance. After reading that, doesn’t it just sound ridiculous? Well, we get into these seasons of striving without even realizing it. And, leaders do it just as much (or more) as anyone else. It’s the drive in us.

To see and hear leaders do and say things that reveal their fight makes me want even more to say NO to this struggle. When we name-drop, toot our own horn, talk only to “important” people, and show-off on social media, we are frankly getting bloodied in this battle. We need to see it for what it is…an unfortunate fight.

There is a far better meditation than fitting in. The better reflection is… am I being obedient? The clarity that this question brings is staggering in light of the turmoil we allow to pillage our mind and emotions when we try to “fit in.” John Ortberg, in his soul-searching book The Me I Want to Be, writes, “Real life, however, begins when I die to the false god that is me.” And, we die to that false god only as we live in obedience!

Here are some follow up questions for even deeper clarity:

  • How should my obedience to God reflect in how I lead?
  • How should my obedience to God reflect in my relationships?
  • How should my obedience to God reflect in my daily responsibilities?

WHO AM I WHEN I’M COMPLETELY OBEDIENT TO GOD AND HIS WORD?

Isn’t that where our focus should be…? And, in answering the above questions, I take my agenda out and put His in! Sure, the enemy is going to try and distract with the peripheral. But I refocus when I live in deliberate obedience to God. And, I do this by depending on His grace. He will help us leave the fight to fit in and live being faithful to what He alone wants us to be and do. Nothing else matters. But obedience makes everything else count!

The Nonnegotiable of Growth

alexis-brown-82988What if getting better was a nonnegotiable for everyone in your organization? Sure, I understand that God is ultimately in charge of our improvement. Consider the responsibility, however, of full-on cooperation. If we do not daily give Him something to work with, little inner success will occur.

So, what does it look like for you as a leader to implement the nonnegotiable of growth among those you are privileged to lead? Patrick Lencioni has written a tremendous book entitled, The Ideal Team Player. He says that, first of all, improvement is not an option. Secondly, he profoundly communicates that the organization should provide plenty of support for the employees’ development. And, lastly, in the spirit of the nonnegotiable, he shares that if someone decides to opt out and leave the organization, that would be okay.

Three words come to mind when we talk nonnegotiables:  trust, accountability, grace. Those who want to grow will always grow with help. And, when they know that our heart is with them in their growth journey, their desire will increase even more. Building trust along the way is key to this entire subject. In light of accountability, take regular time for transparency among book studies, learning venues, and developmental questions. Don’t let your weekly meetings just be about throwing out information or giving reports. Foster intelligent and interesting dialogue around leadership thoughts. And, offer a whole lot of grace, because growth stretches us and makes us uncomfortable. Keep gracefully pressing the issue of growth, personally and corporately, however, no matter how difficult it might be for them. The outcome will be a contagion of betterment.

Those who want to grow will always grow with help.

Leaders, please don’t see this as only a pay scale issue. Growth opportunities and how we provide them must be seen as much among those who do not get monetary remuneration as those who do. Hey, we are all volunteers, one way or the other. We all volunteer to be a part of whatever it is we are doing. That’s the cooperation thing we talked about earlier.

In review, provide the steps to grow. Make growth doable for those you lead. I know this sounds crazy, but what if, in fact, you and your organization did begin to make growth a nonnegotiable? If we do it in the spirit of truth, accountability and grace, God will be honored because people will be challenged to surrender more. And, when it comes to leading with God’s blessings, the greater our surrender, the greater our potential!

(There are a lot more books and articles on this subject that I’m happy to share with you.  Comment below and give me your questions or thoughts.)

Be a Dialogue-Rich Leader

be a dialogue-rich leaderDo you enjoy good conversations? When was the last time that a deep dialogue left you with a buzz? What makes you avoid or pursue talks with people?

Recently, I was privileged to experience an engaging conversation with some young leaders. There were times within that interchange that I internally wanted to disagree with some of what was being expressed. And, yet, the longer I listened, the more I appreciated their perspective. In other words, I learned… I learned that young leaders are smart. I learned that their hearts are big for positive change. I learned that they truly want to be recognized for their contribution and want to make a difference with their lives. And, l learned that they really value relationship! The experience proved to be an immensely helpful discovery out of a deeply rich dialogue.

It has been my observation that monologue-rich leaders dominate while dialogue-rich leaders influence. When we allow and even encourage the conversation, we are given the opportunity to not only influence the present reality but also the relationships that are impacted by our humility for the long run. Initiating the talk is one of the most effective ways of leading by serving.

This is what I’m learning about being a dialogue-rich leader:

Ask a lot of questions.

Avoid responding to anything with dogmatism.

Encourage differing opinions. 

Refrain from always having an answer.

Listen, listen, listen!

Conversation adds value. When we engage in deliberate discussion, incredible amounts of learning is the potential. The talks we have with our teams, with other generations, and with co-leaders as well as those in higher levels of influence can take us further on our leadership journey. Leader, lean into the practice of dialogue. When we learn to be better conversationalists, we will learn!