Ask just about anyone how they’re doing these days and you’ll hear words like “crazy,” “barely hanging in there,” and most frequently “busy.”
I want to share a few insights that have proven successful in helping me and the dozens of leaders I coach find clarity.
In fact, as I provide direction over Leadership Network this fall, it has never been more paramount for me to see things as they truly are. This applies both inside and outside my organization and yours.
In your circle of influence, are you seeing things as they are? I postulate this is a pre-requisite for positioning your ministry for the highest possible success as you move forward.
What do you do that bears fruit?
Too often we as leaders get caught up in perpetuating what worked yesterday (aka “the past”), and we fail to see both the decay around us and the opportunity in front of us. I’m speaking from experience here: I’ve been guilty of this many, many times as a leader. I know what it’s like to be busy leading a fast-paced ministry, raising teenagers, prioritizing my marriage and, oh yeah, running a large combat-ready military unit as the Chief Pilot of an Air Force Reserve KC-10 squadron.
Too often we as leaders get caught up in perpetuating what worked yesterday (aka “the past”), and we fail to see both the decay around us and the opportunity in front of us.
Here’s a simple and effective question that will help prove my point: What 1-2 things were you working on a year ago that bore the most fruit? Think about those things for a few seconds. Now, be honest, what percent of your time did you devote to those fruit-bearing things?
If you’re like me and most of the leaders I get honest feedback from, they’ll tell you they spend about 20-30% of their time on the things that have proven most fruitful.
If this is even remotely true for you, we MUST then ask how we can devote less of our time to the things that are less effective, and more of our time to the things that are more effective.
The secret to this is perspective.
Your organization and your team NEED you to have the best perspective on what’s important TODAY and where the great opportunities are TOMORROW.
Here are three simple steps that you will help you with this, and you can begin right now!
SAY NO TO THE THINGS THAT YOU KNOW ARE NOT “MOST IMPORTANT”
SPEND MORE TIME IN REFLECTION…TO THE POINT OF BOREDOM
A bit more on reflection…I once heard, “Good leaders spend 90 minutes every day staring out a window.” There was a time in my life and leadership not long ago when I would have said that’s a waste of time. But if you’re spending 70% of your time on things that didn’t make the “most fruitful” list last year, wouldn’t it be better to focus your time on the right things now…before you spend it on the wrong things?
Good leaders spend 90 minutes every day staring out a window.
And, 2020 has brought so much disruption to our world that I’d argue it is 10X more important to do these things now.
Although “staring out a window for 90 minutes” was literal in how I heard it being described, I use it metaphorically to mean this: Take regular time to get out of the grind of work where everyone else’s priorities are pushed on you. Instead, find regular time to create “headspace” where you can gain perspective – perspective on how things really are, what’s working and what’s not, what is coming “next” and how to prepare for that.
I’d love to share how I’ve implemented this:
- Taking 45+ minute walks by myself several times a week.
- I may listen to a podcast, listen to instrumental music, or just have silence.
- I think through what is unsettling to me and then reflect on why.
- What is God saying to me?
- Break up busy back-to-back appointments in the afternoon to clear my head—I’ll sit down or even lay down and often stare out a window.
- I was inspired to do this after reading a biography on Churchill
- After my regular scripture reading in the morning, I try to take 10-15 minutes of reflective prayer and listen to anything God is saying.
- I usually don’t take morning appointments before 9am to allow for physical activity and unhurried quiet times.
- At the end of these times I seek to answer and act upon this question: What became clearer to me?
Here’s a short list of books that helped me value these practices:
- Einstien: His Life & Universe by Walter Isaccson,
- Deep Work by Cal Newport,
- Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts,
- A story I read about Mark Twain (who used to fish with no hook, because he knew people left him alone in silence when he was fishing)
In closing, I want to encourage each of you to evaluate how you’re currently being swept into what others think is important and what you’re doing simply because it has always been done.
Find a time and place where you can be still, step back, reflect, and then implement changes and rhythms accordingly.
It would be an encouragement to me if you’d write in and post what’s working for you and the fruit that’s come out of it.
Until next week, Grace & Peace.