Riding a Bike & Snow Skiing
When I was a kid my dad took the training wheels off my bike, walked alongside me, and then gave me a push and let go. After a few falls and some asphalt scratches, I finally got it. Thirty years later, I can still ride a bike without thinking about it. I just push off and pedal. In fact, I'd bet that almost all of you reading this could get back on a bike and pick it up quickly, no matter how long it's been since you last hopped in the seat.
On the other hand, not everyone can pick up skis and go down a mountain. Shoutout to our Florida friends & family to you who haven't ever seen snow! It's a skill that takes practice, takes time, and most important takes access to snow!
Leadership is a lot like this as well - We operate in our areas of riding a bike, and other times it feels like we're sliding down a snowy mountain like a 200 pound missile. Some leaders naturally are more comfortable blocking their time, don't have any problem leading a meeting, can pick up any speaking opportunity and not blink. And others of you have to prep yourself before you open your daily calendar. It's harder to plan your time, you get nervous before meetings, you don't feel comfortable in large groups of people.
All of us as leaders have our Bike Riding areas, where we can function and thrive without thinking about it. Those are your leadership strengths. You don't need to do anything to grow in those areas, you're really strong already. Other people notice your giftedness in this area too. With your Bike Riding areas, this is what I'd say:
1. Don't let your strengths become an idol - It's so easy for us to find our identity in our strengths instead of the God who we serve and worship.
2. Look for improvement - No matter how strong you are in a certain area, there's always room for growth. Alabama won a football game by 30 points and the coach was preaching improvement.
3. Pass them on - Things you're good at may be areas others are weak at, so try to find ways to encourage others in growing in those areas. If you're a comfortable public speaker but someone on your team isn't, give them coaching from what you do to make it easier. Spend time with people who struggle leading meetings to offer your input.
Like with our Bikes, we all have our Skiing areas. These are our weaknesses, the areas where we know we aren't very good and can tell our leadership is weaker because of them. But just like how the only way to get better at skiing is to hit the slopes, the only way to grow in your weaknesses is to work on them. Here's what I'd say about that:
1. Find a mentor - Get help and wisdom from someone better than you in your weaknesses. One of my weaknesses was (and still is sometimes) hospital & nursing home visits. I didn't like them, they made me nervous, I never knew what to do. So I had an older and more gifted pastor take me along and I watched him. It helped tremendously. Find someone better than you, and pay them in coffee to make you a better leader.
2. Get constructive feedback - Constructive feedback is different than criticism, and in many ways constructive feedback will help you recognize weak areas and ways to improve. If your Skiing area is preaching or speaking, have some trusted people give you an evaluation and feedback on your messages. Ask them for genuine suggestions. One of the biggest things to learn as a leader is the people around you want to help you succeed. But that will only happen if you let them.
3. Swallow your pride - Admitting we can't do something is one of the hardest things to do as a leader. For some reason we've bought into a Superman mindset that says we have to do everything and be good at it if we're going to be good leaders. But swallowing our pride means we're putting away our perception of ourselves to deal with the reality. And the sooner we swallow our pride, the sooner we're moldable into the leaders God wants us to be.
How have you shored up and strengthened your Skiing areas in your leadership?
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Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.