Jon Acuff is a funny writer. He’s got some excellent things to say about being busy in this week’s Church Leader Insights.
If you’re a human in the year 2016, you’re busy.
It’s a fact.
I guarantee no one is reading this blog post right now thinking, “Busy? Ha! After I read this pearl of wisdom from Jon I have nothing else to do this week. I’m going back to bed until Monday!”
Not all busyness is created equal, of course.
Some of us fill our days working, investing in our loved ones, and spending time on our passions. Others pour hours into sending out Candy Crush invites on Facebook, researching third string running backs for our fantasy drafts, and capturing our tenth Rattata on Pokemon Go (whatever that is). But regardless of what you do with your time, you probably feel like you don’t have enough.
After hearing this sentiment time and again, I realized there’s a lie that busyness tries to get all of us to believe, and it’s this: You can only start something important if you have a lot of time to work on it.
The problem is, it’s just not true.
Big projects get accomplished one goal at a time.
Books get written one paragraph at a time.
Ten pounds are dropped one workout (or one better meal choice) at a time.
New businesses are started one action step at a time.
Just because you have a dream that seems big or important, doesn’t mean you need a slow season in life to tackle it.
That’s what busyness wants you to believe, because if you buy into that lie you’ll never start it.
It took me a while to understand the application of the Bible’s story about Jonah and the whale. Maybe it came quick for you, but not me.
In case you’re not familiar, the story of Jonah goes something like this:
A man named Jonah was asked by God to go Nineveh and talk to people who lived there. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh or talk to the people who lived there.
Jonah hid from God by getting on a boat headed away from Nineveh. A storm came. The people on the ship knew someone on the ship caused God to be angry. Jonah told them to throw him overboard so the storm would stop. Jonah was thrown overboard and the storm stopped.
Jonah’s death did not fit with God’s plan. God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh. God sent a large fish to swallow Jonah, where he stayed for three days. Jonah turned back to God and prayed. The fish swam to Nineveh only to spit Jonah out on the shore. Jonah inevitably did what God asked.
Now, a lot of trouble, turmoil, and stress could have been easily avoided had Jonah just done what God had asked him to do in the first place. Jonah did not listen to God. He feared God’s plan and chose a different route.
I thought the job of a leader was to be directive — i.e. to tell her/his staff what to do.
I loved my staff! I wanted the very best for them. I wanted to do everything I could to help them win!
My strategy for their development as leaders was for them to hang around me. I frequently said, “A lot more is caught than taught! If you just hang around me you will learn a lot!”
My strategy for helping them to succeed was to let them benefit from everything I knew that would help them climb the mountain successfully. When they came to me with a problem, I gave them step-by-step instructions on how to solve it.
When they came to with an idea, I applauded them for their idea and then shared with them two or more things that would add horsepower to their idea.
When I asked them to take on a new project — if they said “Yes!” — I asked them to pull out a legal pad and I gave them step-by-step instructions on how to do it.
And when one of my staff left my office, I smiled with the thought that they were walking away so impressed with my wisdom and so appreciative that I had given them the perfect road map to success. I was absolutely clueless to how my “over-helpfulness” was actually making them feel.
Several years ago, at the Global Leadership Summit put on by the Willow Creek Association, I saw that one of the speakers was going to be Liz Wiseman, speaking on “Multipliers” the same title as her book.
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For the past decade, I’ve been privileged to teach a leadership course at Stanford with Professor Charles O’Reilly.
The amazing array of leaders who’ve visited our classroom has included Greg Boyle (the Jesuit priest who founded Home Boy Industries) and Steve Ballmer (Microsoft’s former long-time CEO); star athletes like NFL quarterback Steve Young and MBA point guard Kevin Johnson (now mayor of Sacramento); former White House chief of staff Andy Card, Bloomin’ Brands CEO Liz Smith, and retired four-star general Stanley McChrystal.Such outstanding leaders – and others from the ranks of startups, politics, popular culture, and big business – hail from every ethnicity, family and educational background, and rung on the social ladder.
Some emerged early in their careers, while some blossomed late.
Some of these leaders are reflective, others instinctive.
Some are funny, others humorless. Their leadership styles are similarly variable.
Some work their magic from positions of informal influence, others from the top spot on an organizational chart. Some are visionaries, others are tacticians.
Some lead by charisma, others by consensus building.
As diverse as they are, I’ve found that leaders do have certain things in common. And that the following three characteristics of leadership still surprise many:
1. Leaders get results through others. The ability to delegate might seem obvious, but it’s a major challenge for young people who have excelled because of their ability to deliver results.