As you know, leaders fall every day. Whether you are an emerging leader or an established one, that doesn’t have to be your story.
In part 1 of Why Do Leaders Fall?, I gave some context to the conversation and shared 3 out of 7 ways to lead for the long haul. What do I mean by leading for the long haul?
It’s more than just staying in the game. It’s leading yourself, your people (your loved ones), and your team or organization in such a way so that everybody wins. You could call it legacy.
If you can’t look at yourself in the mirror, and the people you love don’t respect you, you’ve failed no matter how “successful” you are.
John Maxwell defines success as “having those closest to me love and respect me the most.”
I couldn’t agree more.
With that being said, let’s dive into the last 4 ways to lead for the long haul.
4 Ways to Lead for the LONG HAUL
4) Live in the light. Andy Stanley is known for saying, “Bad things grow in the dark.” Think about it. What grows in dark damp places? Nothing good. The same is true of the human heart. Nothing good ever comes of hiding things. You need some people with whom you can expose everything…before it becomes an issue. In the past, I’ve made the mistake of waiting too long to share what’s happening in my heart. And from experience I can tell you, it never gets better.
Light exposes. That’s why we often try to hide when we are doing dark things. If you can learn to expose something before it becomes a problem, while it is still a seed, you will save others from experiencing the consequences of your mistakes and yourself the hurt and embarrassment of it coming out in public at a later time. That’s what it means to live in the light.
5) Your best friend can’t be your dog. We all know healthy relationships are important, but we underestimate just how important they are. Many leaders are so used to being the leader in every situation that they don’t have people they can just be themselves around and have a mutually life-giving relationship. Author and psychologist John Townsend advocates for seven types of relationships. He argues the one leaders seem to lack most are “comrades.” According to Townsend,
“Comrades are friends who know your business, making you fully known and fully loved, with no hiding secrets.”
Having healthy comrades is one of the keys to healthy leadership. Townsend goes on to provide a framework to cultivate these types of friendships, but let me just summarize it this way:
- Define a list of 3-5 people with whom you think you could have this type of relationship (but start with one)
- When you meet with him, share something somewhat vulnerable and see how he responds. If he tries to solve your problem, brushes it off, and moves on, or starts telling you how much worse his problems are than yours, he is probably not a comrade
- Give a person three times and if the same thing happens, keep them in the “casuals” bucket
6) Pay attention to the dashboard. Your emotions are the dashboard to your soul. Hopefully, you pay attention when the check engine light pops on in your car. The same is true of your soul. Many leaders don’t know how to deal with their emotions – especially negative ones. Try this: when an emotion rises to the surface, pay attention to it! Whether it’s anger, sadness, fear, happiness, confidence or some other emotion, acknowledge it and ask yourself where it’s coming from. If you still can’t pin it down, try processing it with someone else: your spouse, a good friend, or a mentor, coach, or counselor.
Your emotions are an indicator of what’s happening on the inside. The longer you let negative emotions go unchecked, the worse they become. You can’t always live by your emotions, but if you want to lead for the long haul, you had better pay attention to them.
Pete Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is a great place to start.
7) Rest hard. We regularly boast about how hard we work, but I rarely hear people talk about how hard they rest. Many leaders are admittedly workaholics. Exhaustion and overwork always take their toll. You need a ritual to replenish your body, soul, and spirit. What are your daily, weekly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual rhythms of rest?
You can only ignore yourself for so long. I know because I did it. Rest Assured is my story of learning the hard way that I am not a machine. I’m a human being, not a human doing. I don’t always have a good gauge on how depleted I actually am until it’s too late. That’s why a routine or what I call a Rhythm of Rest is necessary.
Start with some simple things. I call it a Rhythm if Rest. Here are some examples:
- Daily – define a stop time from work (including email)
- Weekly – designate a consistent weekly day of rest.
- Quarterly – plan times to reflect, renew, and re-evaluate your schedule, goals, and priorities.
- Semi-annually – take a personal retreat and/or a weekend away with your spouse or loved ones for some rest.
- Yearly – draw away for an extended vacation or time off.
You are flesh and blood. You have limits. When you move past those limits you are putting yourself and those you lead at risk.
Which of the 7 steps do you need to focus on right now? What are you going to do about it?