I work at a church, I’m a pastor who leads a high-capacity team of very capable people. I also lead on the senior level, which means that I don’t just lead my team, but I also contribute to the direction and vision of the organization. I lead up, down and side-to-side, all of these areas come with their own challenges, joys and responsibilities. But probably the most difficult person I lead is … myself.
I don’t know about you, but it’s easier to lead others. Because let’s face it, it’s easier to see the “growth” areas in others than it is in ourselves. It’s less painful and requires less personal responsibility to course adjust from a distance than to dig down into our own backyard and pull up the weeds that choke out the good seeds that are starving to sprout.
In the work environment I’ve been a part of the last several years, the week between Christmas and New Year is usually a down week. Offices are closed, rest ensues which gives way to a clear mind and the ability to get a little introspective (which is probably a future post). Several years ago, I started using that week to look back at the previous year, really evaluate what we were able to accomplish (professionally and personally) and explore what the new year might have in store. This process for me is more than setting the calendar of events, and more about focus. What is the big idea, the over-arching theme for the upcoming year that I need to keep in the forefront of my mind, heart and leadership?
I’m a firm believer that “leaders are learners”. We should be able to look back over the last year and identify where we grew, what we’re still struggling with and be different year over year. And here’s the thing, everybody leads! If you’re a parent, you lead. If you are married, you lead. If you work as an assembler at a manufacturing company, you lead. How will you continue to grow and learn this year?
For me, my annual self-evaluation and forward course direction for the new year comes in the form of a word or a phrase. Here are some of the words that have surfaced to the top for me over the years:
- Gather ~ This word, because I was struggling with allowing myself to have close friendships. This was an area of growth and so it became my focus for the year.
- Wholehearted ~ What I didn’t know about this word when it was revealed to me was that year would require me to be wholehearted. I went into the year, thinking “whew whoo! I live wholeheartedly, this is going to be a blast!” In reality it was more of an exercise in learning perseverance and endurance. Good word.
- Plant ~ Plant good seeds everywhere, in everyone.
For me, there is always a Bible verse or passage that supports my annual word. For you it might be a quote that got your attention. Regardless, I want to challenge you to make this year intentional. Don’t just go into your year, this month or today “like a wave of the seas that is blown and tossed by the wind” *, lead yourself well, so that you can influence others in positive ways. Leaders are learners, leaders are intentional, leaders do the hard work to be the best version of themselves they can be. That means leaders do the hard work on themselves first.
How about you? How do you self-lead?
P.S. My word this year; True.
- Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero
*James 1:6 NLT Bible