I am looking out of my apartment window in the complex where my family and I live in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is little after 9 on a Monday morning, April 20, 2020. Usually by this time I am on the campus of the college that my wife and I are leading. But today is day 25 of the lockdown here in South Africa. We have been out of our complex only four times in the past 24 days. This has been quite an adjustment for us; under normal circumstances we rarely go a day without leaving the complex.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. – Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
What would happen if we all were to live our lives with these two verses as guiding principles? I wonder what would happen in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, churches, communities and nation.
Recall the last mistake you made. How did you handle it? Did you own up to it, and perhaps learn something from it? Or did you try to blame it on someone or something else and move on? Or were so mad at yourself you did not take the time to see what you could have learned from the experience? If your response was the latter, you have plenty of company: it is the response of most people.
Most of us fear making mistakes, and when we make them, we try to rationalize them away. The reality is, mistakes are a part of life and we should not live our lives in fear of making them. Rather we should learn from our mistakes or we run the risk of repeating them.
How can we learn from our mistakes?
Two of the most dominant attitudes and actions in our society today are anger and hostility. We could use much more kindness and gentleness. We have a choice of which of those we want to characterize our lives. The challenge is that expressing anger and hostility seems to arise much more naturally but showing kindness and gentleness requires us to be intentional.
You may be familiar with the saying, “Leaders are born not made.” While the saying remains debatable, most will agree that there are certain core qualities, whether natural or learned, that all successful and great leaders possess.
One of the challenges we all have to learn to overcome is to realize there are some things we have no control over. Too often we allow things we can’t control to get us angry and frustrated. The sooner we come to grips with the reality that we don’t have control over them, the sooner we better manage or react to our circumstances.
For example, we allow the behavior, attitude or ways of thinking and speaking of others to bother us to the point of worry and anger. When we allow the way someone is behaving to affect us, we are giving energy to things over which we have no control.
I know the idea of resolutions is not particularly effective or motivational. As a matter of fact, many of us do not even want to hear the word resolution used around this time of the year because it has been abused and misused.
Too many leaders, when facing opposition, leave their responsibilities and move on to a place of less opposition. In some cases, this is because they are not prepared to deal with the hardships that come with being a leader. Some leaders believe that leading should be easy and without opposition because they have the authority and power to lead and make decisions; they believe people should follow them, not oppose them.
As a leader your use of words is by far the most influential tool you have to impact those you lead. Your words define the culture of the organization. The question is not whether your organization has a culture, but what kind of culture you have created and continue to build?
Let us look at some ways in which your words help create the culture of your organization.
I recall a time in my life as a leader when I bought into that myth. I was on call 24/7 and felt I was needed; that gave me a sense of value. In the process, I neglected my family, my health, and my spiritual and psychological well-being.
What are some signs that you may be doing too much?