I’m an introvert. I like quiet. I crave alone time. I get distracted and irritated by large crowds and noise. And you know what’s totally crazy? I’m a musician and have been a pastor in some form or fashion for my entire adult life. Both of those categories revolve around crowds, people and noise! Want to know something. I’m kind of exhausted. I’m fried. I feel like I’ve been running into the wind and uphill for a long time. I want more. I want to feel like I’m being intentional. I want to feel like the time I’m spending with people other than my family is important. Ever feel like that?
Even though I function as an introvert, I’ve always felt a strong pull towards making people feel important and special (which is noble in general), but in the midst of those feelings and “good intentions” I tend to lose myself to the business of people pleasing. Sound familiar?
So, here I am. 48+ and wanting something different. Wanting something…more. Intentional. Adventurous. Unconditional.
Thankfully these feelings haven’t sent me looking for a younger, hotter woman (I married the younger, hotter woman!).
What the feelings and thoughts have pushed me to is towards processing what is important and who is important in my life.
Here’s what I think. Here’s what I know. Who you surround youself with is more important than how many! Did you hear that? For all of you who think that quantity of friendships out way quality you need to stop. Now! I know that you don’t want to hurt feelings. I know that you want to be nice. Friendly. But that’s not the same thing as being intentional.
I’m a follower and disciple of Jesus. Want to know something about him? He really only had a tight group of 12 people that he spent time with. And even then, there were only 3 really, really tight friends. No matter what you think about Christianity, Jesus knew what he was doing. He knew that to be truly intentional. To be truly influential, you needed to narrow the amount of influence those around you had. Because when you did that, your influence would grow.
Here’s what I’m doing in this season.
- I’m pausing – from expending unnecessary energy in relationships that aren’t reciprocal.
- I’m processing – what I want/need from the relationships/friendships that I believe are important
- I’m pursuing – those relationships that have come through the process
I know that many of you right now are squirming. You’re squirming because you think that this is being mean and harsh and selfish. You know what? It probably is…just a little. But again. Here’s the deal. Jesus. The great historical teacher and philosopher was intentional about who he surrounded himself with (and I believe He was more than those things). When we are thoughtful about our relationships. When we are truly, truly intentional about who we allow in to our lives, life will honestly be better. Grander. More full of purpose. So? Are you in? Let’s be about intentionality. Let’s be about purpose.
There’s a word that I kind of hate. Want to know what it is? Well, you don’t have a choice. Here it is. Authenticity. There you go. I’ve confessed. With my confession let’s talk about the first one. Authenticity. I hate it. Really. It’s so over rated. It’s so misconstrued. And yet it’s part of our culture. “I like them, they’re SO authentic.” Give me a break. I want to hurl.
What’s the deal with authenticity? Tons of people want it. Most don’t have a clue of what it means. An in all honesty and transparency — I don’t either. But I do have some thoughts. Let’s start with some Shakespeare
[shareable]This above all: To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. – Hamlet, Shakespeare[/shareable]
Your friends and family all struggle with this one. Being authentic. Being real is kind of tough. Cause when you show your weaknesses. When you show that your feelings can get hurt, people don’t know how to handle it. Maybe they’ll respond by mocking you.
Here’s a little secret. Everyone struggles. Everyone has hurts and pain. We all struggle with being scared. We all struggle with having negative or bad thoughts. When we don’t allow people into our hurt and fear this happens. How you respond in those times will help you know what kind of leader you will be.
There was a really popular song on itunes and the radio. My kids sing it like crazy. There’s even a Minecraft version of it. It’s called Demons by Imagine Dragons. Now, this song isn’t about devils that are red and have horns and a pitchfork. It is about how we all struggle and how we need to be real with the people around us. Here are some of the lyrics:
“When the days are cold
And the cards all fold
And the saints we see
Are all made of gold
I wanna hide the truth
I wanna shelter you
But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide
When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide”
Being authentic. Being real means that we let people see us just as we are. Big scary warts and all!
Here’s the deal around this. There’s no middle ground with authenticity. Either you are authentic or you’re not. And, what I know about authenticity is that people prefer it over being fake. They may not initially agree, but eventually they will.
So, what kind of leader do you want to be? My guess is that you’re telling yourself that you want to be authentic. You want to be real. Don’t we all? But our inner desire and reality are very, very different.
Question: What is it about you that’s keeping you from being from authentic and real? What are you willing to do to get there?
Superbowl 50 is over. The excitement and stress of the season and of last night is over. I’m not a rabid sports guy. Never have been. I like going to games, but have never really got into blocking my time to watch games on tv or following the stats of any of my home town teams. With that being said, I did watch the Superbowl last night (after spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to one device after another to get a good wifi signal). It was good match of two teams who deserved to be there. There was enough excitement and nail biting to go around. There were also some things to be learned about what leadership looks like. Most of the thoughts are coming from watching Peyton Manning lead the Broncos. So here they are.
1. Recognize your team’s strengths
When it comes to the Denver Broncos, the common theme of the 2015 season has been their defense. Everyone has been talking about it. From Facebook fans to sports commentators, they’ve all been saying that if Denver wins Superbowl 50, it will on the backs of the defense. Well guess what? They were all right! No matter what Cam Newton and the Panthers did, they couldn’t get past the Broncos defense. They were fast, furious and everywhere. It was crazy to watch.
So what? Well, the what is that during Peyton’s 6-7 weeks of recovery time, he saw the strength and power of his defensive line. He saw it, recognized it and went with it. He knew that he needed them. He knew that the Broncos organization needed them. So he kept putting them in the position of being the strength of the team. Not the offense. The defense. Good leadership recognizes the strength(s) of their team, even when it seems counter intuitive.
2. Develop your character
Every time I watch Peyton Manning get interviewed, I’m struck by how kind he is. He takes each question in stride (no matter how stupid the question). When I hear people talk about him it’s with words like character, leadership, respect or integrity.
Here’s the deal. That doesn’t happen over night or in a vacuum. Character is grown and fostered over time. Over years. It takes work. It takes being able to look at yourself and your weaknesses and then asking for help. Developing your character requires that you surround yourself with people who will love you enough to tell when you’re blowing it. Peyton has those people in his life. It’s obvious. Many of them are his family members. When you don’t have a strong or healthy family what do you do? Find surrogates. Find good friends who don’t care about your title or popularity and will tell you what’s what.
3. Be humble and honest
Watching Peyton get interviewed after the game, I was struck again at how kind he was to the interviewer and at how he talked up his team mates. He knew that the win wasn’t just about him. He knew that it was a team effort. It was a pleasure to watch. Then came the Cam Newton interview. It wasn’t a pleasure to watch. Cam faced obvious questions and sometimes silly questions. It was painful. I felt bad for him.
Can I just say something here? Yes, he is the quarterback of an NFL team. Yes, he is in a position of leadership. Yes, he should be able to handle the media better. But you know what? He’s 26!!! Give him a break. He was sad. Disappointed. How many of you would be able to handle yourself in his situation? I would have loved it if he would have just said, “You know what? I’m super disappointed. I don’t have much to say right now. That Broncos D was crazy good.” But he didn’t do that and now he’s got to live with what what the world is saying about him.
Anyway. That’s some of what’s rattling around in my head after last night. We’ve all been called to lead, so let’s lead well.
Question. What does your leadership style look like? Is it all about you or are you all about your team? What would it look to change your leadership style to be more inclusive and less exclusive? Side note: This is in the office or in the home.