View from my office window @QueensUniv. Can. Not. Be. Beat.
Ambiguity is a nurturer of faith. It is the foggy or perhaps dark place where we often find ourselves as we navigate the waters of life. It is in those moments that our questions evolve…Why? Where am I going? How is this going to work?
In the midst of these many moments, I am starting to learn a really valuable lesson in faith. Sometimes…the search for answers…the barrage of questions…comes from a place of fear and a desire for control. A lack of faith.
Biting my tongue, refraining from asking questions and truly yielding control of the rudder in the foggy waters has deepened my faith in ways that I am only beginning to understand. Should we never ask questions? Of course not. But perhaps God is asking you to bite your tongue and place your faith in Him. He will answer the unasked questions in His time and give you even more reason to have faith in Him.
Leaders Are Almost Blind Without Great Teams
One of the fun things a leader gets to do is to be visionary. Dictionary.com defines visionary as: given to or characterized by fanciful, not presently workable, or unpractical ideas, views, or schemes. The beauty of being visionary is that you provide inspiration and direction. The downside of course is that you can become virtually blind to the rest of the world around you if you are not careful. The best way a visionary can be successful is to have a great team to translate those “fanciful, not presently workable” ideas into strategy and action.
Images often reinforce concepts in my own mind and drive home an important lesson. Take the photo above - looking into the distance - an absolute requirement for a visionary leader - means NOT seeing a lot of what is closer and more immediate - especially in the periphery. That’s where great teams come in —connecting the present to the future. A great leader must listen to the team while challenging and pushing them.
I love the tension that evolves when this is occurring - it is a tension that is critical to success - but only if it is in an environment of trust and respect. Tension often gets a bad rap because it is usually considered negative. It actually creates opportunity for greatness to appear when managed well. I have had the opportunity to learn this lesson a lot lately. I have an awesome team who sees so much of what I don’t. It makes us a better team, it makes me a better leader and it brings about great work.
My band @paper_tongues is releasing new music on November 20. Purchase it on iTunes!
These guys are great! Excited to get it.
“When we allow for intimacy, we open ourselves to two of the most dreaded conditions in our culture—vulnerability and failure. Those conditions are actually essential to reaching deeper understanding, to getting closer to the truth.”
Excerpt from Only Disconnect by Andrew Reiner, Towson University. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
There is not much I can add to this. We all attempt to walk around with our Teflon coating - constantly preventing others from seeing (or heaven forbid touching) what is underneath. And today’s technology has allowed us to perfect it.
However, I have found that my greatest moments of growth have come from my greatest failures (read: I have grown a lot). I have also found that my level of vulnerability profoundly impacts the quality of my relationships with others - their impact on me - and my impact on them.
Of course, if our identity is derived from Teflon, success and others’ opinions - then I can see where one could be scared to live without Teflon. I hope that as the Teflon flakes off - you can see clearly enough to see how much better life could be without it. As scripture says - we all fall short - so let’s ditch the Teflon and embrace vulnerability and failure - and see what happens.
So. Today is my bday. In some ways…no different than yesterday. But it is. I feel special today…why? Because others have wished me a happy bday. Pretty cool. It is nice to be acknowledged. Not unlike funerals (especially with the advent of Facebook) birthdays are when you get some serious love from lots of folks. And it matters. Especially because we are alive to receive the love. We all struggle at some level with our identity and relevance. Birthdays matter because they celebrate that we are a unique creation who has meaning. We have a purpose. I am grateful for the birthday wishes because it is confirmation that my life has meaning. I knew that. I really did…because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. But…it is awesome that it is confirmed in something as simple as a birthday wish. So thank you. And thank God for birthdays. Because we matter. #birthdays #meaningoflife #God
Is this really depressing or is it just that I’m reading it on my smartphone, alone in a crowded cafe?
ADDICTED TO INTERNETS, Y’ALL!
(But srsly, think this whole thing is making us a little nutso? That’s our cover this week: How ‘connection addiction’ is re-wiring our brains.)
Questions about the Internet’s deleterious effects on the mind are at least as old as hyperlinks. But even among Web skeptics, the idea that a new technology might influence how we think and feel—let alone contribute to a great American crack-up—was considered silly and naive, like waving a cane at electric light or blaming the television for kids these days. Instead, the Internet was seen as just another medium, a delivery system, not a diabolical machine. It made people happier and more productive. And where was the proof otherwise?
Now, however, the proof is starting to pile up. The first good, peer-reviewed research is emerging, and the picture is much gloomier than the trumpet blasts of Web utopians have allowed. The current incarnation of the Internet—portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive—may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts, and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways.
Want more? Read: Is the Web Driving Us Mad?
So…here is something I learned about myself. I have the propensity to enjoy being a victim of my own stupidity. Ever catch yourself complaining about a situation - only to reflect long enough to realize you are complaining about being a victim of your own decision(s)?
Welcome to the victimology of stupid.
Everyone can be stupid - everyone. But not everyone has the talent to take on the victim role of their own stupidity. It is a talent (not an admirable one…but a talent nonetheless).
So…if you are like me (sorry if you are) let’s endeavor to laugh about our stupidity and not be so self-absorbed that we willingly take on the victim role of our own stupidity.
It sucks because it is hard. And it is hard because the more I grow as a leader the more I realize that it isn’t about me. And let’s face it - that is a hard lesson to learn. But it is a lesson that I am learning everyday. So what am I learning? 1) Leaders equip others to succeed. When we are busy equipping others, we are not too focused on ourselves. 2) Leaders care about success, not credit. As soon as I care about credit, I have lost my connection to mission and the team. Successful leaders live missionally. 3) Leaders get out of the way. A funny paradox of sorts…but leaders shouldn’t always be at the front of the pack. Sure…setting vision and strategy is critical…but I need to get out of the way to allow the team (who is far more talented than me) to take us forward. Sometimes leaders are in the midst of the team…and sometimes they are on the sidelines cheering the team on. It is critical to know when to do what! So yes…leadership sucks. It sucks the “me” right out of the equation so that “we” can be successful.