How I fell into swimming
I learned to swim on my 8th birthday after falling into the pool while playing tag.
Back in 1997, my family lived in the Marine Parade area in Singapore. Our condo had a beautiful, large 10 ft deep pool, which at the time, seemed to be as large as the ocean. With a nice open area right next to the pool, and a BBQ ready to grill all the meats I could possibly dream of, it seemed like the perfect spot for my birthday party. As my friends and I played tag, we got lost in the moment and became increasingly concentrated on the most important thing – not getting caught.
As I ran along the side of the pool (which I now know not to do), I slipped and immediately fell into the deep end. Gasping for air as I began to drown, I quickly found myself guzzling water as if someone had shoved a fire hose in my mouth. Not knowing which direction “up” was, I decided to simply flail my arms in desperation, hoping that would work.
After what felt like an eternity, I popped back up over the surface, now sputtering out water and deeply inhaling as much air as I could get. Still moving my arms, doggy-paddling, I found that I could move in the water!
That was the beginning of how I taught myself to swim and how I got over my fear of water – all purely by accident. Now, of course, I’m more intentional, but I still approach learning new things in the same way.
Furthermore, although drowning was definitely a possibility, there were so many people surrounding me who could have jumped in and saved me.
Why they didn't absolutely confounds me, but it worked out in the end.
Fast forward to 2016.
I invested in myself earlier this year by taking up piano lessons with the primary goal of leading worship music at my church. These hour-long lessons would occur 4x/month at $50/lesson, running me $200/month. Because I was paying for it myself, I took it seriously enough to practice an additional 4 hours/week, bringing my weekly piano practice to 5 hours. My learning began in April and continued until the end of October, for a total period of 30 weeks (7 months).
Total time spent learning piano this year: 5 hours/week * 30 weeks = 150 hours
Total investment - $50/week * 30 weeks = $1500
Throughout this time, I focused/improved on these 3 main things:
At the end of October, I felt like I had learned a ton in some areas, yet practically nothing in others. With no clear date in mind for me to try leading worship, I paused my lessons. Rationalizing, I figured that this break would give me time to prepare for my MBA and spend more time with family.
The Challenge: Stumbling into another pool
Two weeks ago, our Deacon of Music came up to me and asked me if I could lead worship because we were short-staffed. Without hesitation (not completely thinking it through), I replied, “Sure thing! When would I be doing this?”
With a look of relief, he answered “Next week.”
I nodded slowly, contemplating the fact that I had just committed to doing something that I was not mentally prepared for.
“Okay… great, yeah, I got this!”
The timeline for leading music had shrunk from “sometime in the future” to “T minus 7 days.”
The challenge suddenly became very real.
My insecurities about not being a very good piano player flared up. My lack of confidence about my singing capabilities, which were sitting in the depths of my mind, now popped back up to resurface. So, like Rocky, I prepped. Despite the nerves that ebbed and flowed throughout the week, the abrupt deadline led me to not only vigorously practice, but also to clearly organize the structure of the first 30 minutes of service.
Then, something weird happened.
On Saturday night, in the midst of a heavy prayer session asking for guidance, I felt a sense of calm come over me. It’s like God was telling me “You’re probably, definitely going to mess up. But that’s okay.”
After all, at this point, I had scrutinized over every detail and had practiced as much as I possibly could. That little voice in my head reminded me:
Simply follow through on what you've practiced.
The next morning, I showed up acutely aware of what I was good at and what I wasn’t. Throughout our group practice an hour before our service began, I noted each major mistake I made and made a mental note of what I could do better. When the time came to start, I simply did my best and left the rest to God. After all, this was all for Him anyways.
In the end, things worked out! Although my playing and leading wasn’t perfect, it was progress.
Focus on progress, not perfection.
Personal Takeaway: Improve Transitions
With a focus on progress, here's what my first session as a worship leader taught me:
The biggest area that I can improve is in my transitions.
Notably, I’ve identified 3 types of transitions I can make improvements in.
Throw yourself in.
It really reminded me a lot of what I went through in learning how to swim.
I didn't know what I was doing, but I was eager to figure out how to improve. Each mistake gave me a benchmark that I could then recalibrate from. My flailing progressed into doggy-paddling, and my doggy-paddling then progressed into freestyle swimming. All of this growth started with a mistake that nearly cost me my life, yet gave me a new arena of life to play and explore in. What an amazing sentiment that our mistakes propel us forward. It certainly helped me think of playing music in an entirely new different way. Each session now is simply an opportunity to grow.
After all, showing up is just the beginning.
“What do you want this year for your birthday?”
Year after year, that question always comes up around the same time (I wonder why).
How do you usually respond? If you’re anything like me, you probably stare at them blankly and shrug. Oftentimes, I don’t know what I want for my birthday! Furthermore, I’ll often just go buy anything I really want myself, so I don’t really need anything either.
That got me thinking…what are the best birthday gifts we can’t pay for?
Here are the 3 best birthday gifts you can’t buy.
1. The Gift of Health
Total disclosure: I’ve had pretty bad habits this year when it comes to eating breakfast.
Because my mornings are packed with 7am meetings, as soon as my alarm goes off in the morning, I want to get out of the house as soon as possible. After all, it’s much more efficient to skip traffic! In order to do this, my morning task flow is kept to the bare minimum: clean teeth, style hair, get dressed, smell good, and get out the door – all in 15 minutes tops.
Then, once I got to work, I’d quickly grab a coffee and a breakfast sandwich from Tim Hortons or Starbucks - not the best fuel on a daily basis.
When I woke up on my birthday, I deliberately woke up 30 minutes earlier so that I could sit down and eat a full, healthy breakfast. After all, abs are made in the kitchen. Casually moseying about, I now had the time to throw the kettle on for a cup of tea, boil an egg, peel a banana, slice an avocado and toast my bagel.
In a complete relaxed state, I realized that I hadn’t been treating my body right all year. Despite eating well for my other meals and maintaining an active lifestyle throughout the week, I’ve been taking my health for granted. I realized how blessed I was to have good health and what a gift it was!
The older we get, the more important it is to proactively eat well.
With each birthday, one of the best gifts I’m thankful for is continued health.
2. The Gift of Quality Time
I wrote recently about how disconnected I sometimes feel with life being so busy.
Two weeks before my birthday this year, Arash messaged me to grab lunch. As we sat down for Thai food last Sunday afternoon, I was so humbled that he would make time to see me, especially knowing how busy he is with work, school and moving! As we caught up on each other’s lives, I truly felt how important the gift of quality time is.
There is truly nothing more valuable than someone sharing their moments in life with you.
Whether I'm with friends or family, it doesn't get much better than that.
I'm so thankful for those who still make time for me, and hope that I'm doing just as much of the same for you. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the last year with you!
3. The Gift of Life
In Canada, the average life expectancy is 81.24 years (World Bank, 2012).
At 27 years old, assuming we make it to the average, I’m only 33% of my way through life!
Of course, I may die sooner (a car could hit me, heart attack, natural disaster) and I think it goes without saying that you can’t really celebrate your birthday if you’re dead. On the flip side of that though, how cool is it that on each birthday, we made it another year! With our God-given time, life is such an amazing gift that we take for granted.
I was recently listening to Extreme Ownership, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, where they recounted war stories from their time in Ramadi, Iraq, along with the painful leadership lessons that they learnt through experience. As they spoke about comrades and teammates that became casualties during the war, they impressed upon me how fortunate we are to be able to live in peace here in Canada, where I (relatively) don’t have to worry about being blown up by a frag grenade.
The Simplicity of it all
As the years pass, these 3 simple gifts truly signify how the things we already have are sometimes the best gifts we can continue to receive.
On our birthday, or any other day for that matter.
As of November 14th, 2016
With a month a half left in the year, I took the time yesterday to review all the goals I set for myself this year to see where I was at.
With some goals, I fell flat on my face and failed.
With other goals, I completely gave up because I wasn't even close.
Lastly, it's important to note that despite missing a few, I managed to pull off quite a few!
I've categorized this update with three different statuses:
There's still time...
Although I've usually just done an annual goal-setting session, along with an annual recap, I felt it important to check in before the year ended to see if I could turn goals that would have otherwise failed into successes!
What else can you do before the year is over?
It’s November 13, 2016, and as I write this, drained, I feel like our world is divided.
A few global examples come to mind, like how South Korea is trying to throw out their President, Britain is trying to leave the EU, and America’s election has exacerbated division among its citizens.
Reflecting back on this year, I’ve personally never felt more divided from my communities.
Despite our connected, picture-perfect landscape of Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, we are severely socially divided. As we bounce between feelings of fulfillment and connection with friends, teammates and colleagues, we are equally met with sporadic feelings of intense loneliness and uncertainty.
We’re like boats in the middle of an ocean that slow down just enough to see what other boats (our friends, our family) are up to. We’ll stop by occasionally to see what upgrades or progress each boat is making, before speeding off to our next destination and checking in with other boats (more friends, more family).
In this narrative, there seem to be more boats than we can give adequate time to.
If you’re like me, you might be sitting on a speedboat that loves the rush of life, zipping here and there. Our boats flaunt our trips, our accomplishments, our journeys. Like Twitter, everybody’s throwing bite-sized tweets out there about what’s going on, but there are far fewer people listening.
If you’re like my girlfriend, your boat might be slower, taking its time, moving at a relaxed pace. It might be wondering if it’s going fast enough, while I’m wondering if I should be shifting gears down.
I hate to say it, but many times, we’re alone in a packed room that we call the world.
If this seems pretty dark so far, it’s not. It’s life, it is our busyness and there’s actually a ton of sunshine.
When emotions run high, or deep, or dark, to better understand myself, I stop to find the sources of this divide.
The 2 Sources of Divide
1. Focus + Attention
Chase two rabbits, catch none. - Chinese Proverb
Name a day of the week and I’ll tell you what I have planned in any of the 24 hours available.
I even have days where I can be a kid and impulsively do whatever I want.
I began this year by wanting to conquer everything – read books, write blog posts, learn piano, hone volleyball skills, not die during floor hockey, study systematic theology, master Microsoft Excel, build deeper relationships with my mom and brother, travel the world – you name it.
With this process, you can probably imagine that I’ve become extremely productive, effective, and efficient with my time. While this is partially true for some of the items listed above, I’ve also fantastically failed terribly at a lot of these things. By dividing my focus and attention, here’s a big surprise: I’ve become fairly mediocre at a lot of things.
A friend of mine, James recently compared what we were doing in life to balancing multiple spinning plates.
This is the state of most adult lives; we’re all trying to balance multiple wobbly plates.
I think the first source of divide is this – we’re holding too many damn plates.
2. Width vs. Depth in Relationships
Where the loneliness comes in is that I’ve found it difficult to connect with all these people on a deeper level. When it comes to friends, I have my core group of 8-10 bros that I’ll always make an effort to connect with monthly. But when it comes to sports teams, sometimes even church, we’ll have a sprinkling of connection on the day of, but then won’t talk until the next week. The reason we feel divided is because we feel that we’re seeing a little bit of everyone, but not enough of any one person.
I think the reason I’ve felt this divide is that we seem to be individual boats proudly tooting our horns, trying to steer our own path, and trying to make sure that our boat is the best.
Sadly, I’ve moved away from building communities and building others up.
Since you’re still reading this, and because we’re doing so well with this boat analogy so far,..
Our course of action should be to move forward as a fleet.
Collective. Together, Unified,
It’s about time we stop worrying about ourselves, but instead worry about how we can build strong communities together, to lift one another up.
Is this cheesy? Yes, extremely. But I’ve been pretty wrapped up in myself this year, and I’ve become a pretty small package.
To combat that, I think it's time to take personal responsibility.
Questions I'm asking this week:
I'm going to try being more attentive to others this week and see where we goes.
divided we fall, united we stand.
I blankly stared through the methodical swaying of my windshield wipers as they swished from edge-to-edge, batting away the rain. Although it was the beginning of summer, this definitely felt more like a cool spring shower. As I drove home lost in my thoughts, I angrily reflected on my painful piano lesson against the backdrop of the moody weeknight weather.
not good enough.
Truth is, I sucked.
Before I get into what happened, you may recall that my last post was about how I was going to tackle piano lessons by focusing on the bare necessities and mastering those.
Yay for ambition! This is not an update to tell you things are going well.
That was 3 months ago and since then I've begun work with a registered piano teacher.
Tonight was our 8th lesson and like the sun, my positive mood had disappeared into the night.
"A 7-yr-old could probably pick this piece of sheet music up and play it without a second's hesitation." I thought to myself, as I jabbed at the wrong keys trying to sight-read.
I had brought a song that was fresh off the press at church and recently new to me. Good ole 'Teach proceeded to play the piece once through as if she was a piano ninja that wrote it as a child. Awesome.
After showing me what great looked like, she handed it back to me and said "Let's go through this slowly."
At that moment, I knew I should have practiced more.
For what was another painful 45 minutes, I glanced back and forth between the piano and the sheet music, jabbing nervously as I tried to play mere SINGLE NOTES, then threw in chords on my left hand. #Noob #AdultLearner
It really sucks not being good at something. It's easy to be praised often when you're great at what you do, but it's also important to get out of your comfort zone and ENJOY being there. when you're not great at what you do.
So, to summarize, this is what I appreciate about my experience thus far, despite sucking.
Takeaways from tonight and piano so far
What do you suck at that you're thankful for?
Jake recently recommended a book, titled The One Thing, by Gary Keller.
The One Thing dives into applying the Pareto Principle to the extreme in order to simplify priorities and achieve maximum effectiveness. If you're unfamiliar with the Pareto Principle, it states that the minority of your efforts constitute the majority of your results. It's also commonly called the 20/80 rule, stipulating that 20% of your efforts constitute 80% of your results. I've spent the vast majority of the last 7 years testing and applying the Pareto Principle in different ways, after learning about it from author Tim Ferriss' The 4-Hour Workweek. Despite broad application of the Pareto Principle, The One Thing is now challenging me to be even more selective in what I invest my time in.
Today's post is about how to apply this concept to a new area of learning.
Doing the most important thing is always the most important thing.
I remember another way that Stephen Covey put was "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."
Today, whilst driving home with Teresa, I commented "Man, if only I could duplicate myself, then I could take up piano and Chinese lessons."
"Weren't you about to sign up for Chinese lessons last fall - what happened?" Teresa began to ask, then stopped herself. "Wait, no, I know why you haven't been able to do those things. You decided to take up the GMAT, play sports 4 nights a week and block out most Sundays. On top of all that, you spend Saturdays with me. If you're up and out of the house by 5am and you get home by 10/11pm daily, how will you ever manage to fit additional projects in?"
Just like that, I was reminded that a majority of my week is being invested into doing things that I could do, not things that I should do. Well, the great news is that my GMAT Prep time is almost over and I now have Monday nights open starting mid-March. So this is the perfect chance to experiment with a new dream project!
Living the dream
In grade 12, I took one year of piano lessons where I learn the very basics of playing piano. Some of you have seen my cover videos over the years, where I've simply focused on learning one song at a time and following a basic YouTube tutorial to get there. This has allowed me to learn to play and sing simple, but awesome songs like
I've been on the worship team as a vocalist for my church for a little over two years now. I've always said that I want to learn and pick up piano again, but haven't gotten around to it. I'd really like to become a worship leader who sings/plays piano/leads the team. However, this doesn't really happen unless you can play music too. What better way of exercising my passion for music to glorify God? =D
The stigma is that worship music is fairly easy to pick up because some choruses are repetitive. Since it should be fairly easy, I can tackle this fearlessly knowing that I can only get better from here haha.
That being said, here's an experiment I'd like to invite you to help me out with. From what I've gathered so far, efforts should be concentrated on chord progression, different jazz piano styles/rhythms, learning pivoting, and understanding how piano works with other instruments (namely guitar and drums).
As a to-do list, all those ideas are too broad for a noob like me to understand because there isn't one thing that I can focus on. I have approximately 20 lyric sheets with chords on them and because I don't have time set aside to play piano, I sit down maybe once every few months to jam for an hour randomly.
Collectively thinking, if I were to set aside ONLY 20 minutes per day, what is the ONE THING that I SHOULD do that will not only teach me how to play worship songs, but also sing it and lead others too?
What is the most effective task I should focus on that will enable agile learning and improvisational navigation around the keys?
Desired Result: Be able to play and sing piano simultaneously for worship music
The One Thing: Practicing Scales. I've heard that the one thing that I should focus on is practicing scales. Looking into that, I came across Hanon - Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises and was recommended to simply start with C Major.
Is there anything else you would advise that is more important?
Update (12/22/2016): How I learnt to play piano in 7 months
I was having breakfast with Peter on Sunday and the topic of mentorship came up. As I dived into my sambal scramble at the Tipper restaurant on Kingsway, Peter shared with me how he wished that he had a mentor growing up, someone who could walk him through the ropes of life.
I completely agreed - there was no Mr. Miyagi for either of us, so we had the fun task of figuring things out on our own.
When I was in high school, I was nowhere close to being the smartest kid in the class. Being in the International Baccalaureate program, I had classmates who were Ivy-League smart, who ran circles around problems without breaking a sweat. On the other hand... I was more of the class clown who rarely paid attention because I was trying to make my friends laugh. My best friend and I always figured it was better spending our time building go-karts (Alex) and crashing them (Jay). That being said, I had to adapt to get through high-school and that often meant relying on my classmates for advice and support, especially when it came to Organic Chemistry. *shudder*
Not being naturally talented at school, however, did mean that I was naturally talented at bugging people, asking them questions, or persuading them to let me copy their homework. When I think back, my friends ended up being mentors in that way. As Lennon and McCartney wrote, "I get by with a little help from my friends."
So what exactly is a mentor?
Definition of a mentor - an experienced and trusted advisor.
Considering that mentors are experienced and trusted in giving you advice, wouldn't you want not just one mentor, but multiple ones?
What would it look like if you have different mentors for different aspects of your life?
Here are a few examples:
Why finding a mentor is tough
Ideally, we're looking at a plethora of mentors to help navigate life.
But remember our first problem? It's really hard finding even just one mentor!
Taking a step back, here are the top 2 reasons I wouldn't want to commit to becoming a mentor.
1. Commitment of time
When I'm asked to be a mentor, I wince because I automatically think of how much time I'll have to invest in the other person. I hesitate agreeing, because mentoring means not just one session, but numerous, in-depth hang sessions with my mentee in order to see results. It means that I have to commit to making time out of my busy schedule to care about someone else and that can take months, even years. As you can imagine, if you're not terribly close with the person asking to be mentored, it's hard to want to say yes enthusiastically.
2. Responsibility of well-being
I also get scared of the potential burden placed on me; there's a certain standard, a level of accountability, in taking care of your mentee and making sure they flourish under your guidance.
All of a sudden, you have this expectation put on you that you should know which advice to give, when to give tough love, and when to compliment and provide recognition.
Mentorship is HARD by itself, but also exponentially harder if I don't know you.
How to get multiple mentors in 4 steps
Despite the fact that it's tough to get people to commit to mentoring you, it's very possible to find not just one, but multiple mentors. Here's a simple process I use that may clarify what to do.
1. Ask them if you can treat them to coffee or lunch.
Face to face time is invaluable because you get to connect with the person you're with and it's generally fairly laidback. When I'm with people, it gives me the ability to zone out from everything else and focus only on the person I'm with.
Phone calls are also great if they're not local.
2. Mention that you have 3 specific questions that you'd like to ask them and are seeking their expertise/feedback.
If it's a close friend, then the reason 'I just want to catch up' will do.
If you're not close friends, there needs to be a purpose to meeting. Especially if I don't know you, is there a clear reason why I should spend time with you?
Being specific makes it easier for us to say yes, because we know that you've taken the time to prepare before coming in hot.
3. After the meal, thank them for their time!
An attitude of gratitude goes a long way. Because time is our most valuable asset, we really appreciate it when you thank us for investing the 60 minutes with them. Likewise, we're very thankful for the opportunity to provide insight and share our knowledge, so we thank you for being pro-active and seeking counsel.
4. Ask them if you can follow up in 3-6 months with more questions, after you've applied what they've shared.
One of my pet peeves is when people ask for advice, receive it, and move on without taking action. It hurts when your advice seems to fall on deaf ears, so share with your mentor a quick recap of what you've learnt from that session and what you'll be doing because of it. What's even better is if you ask if it's okay if you check in with me in 6 months, so that takes away my job of remembering to coach you. It also shows that you're taking personal steps to ensure that you are getting the attention you need.
Voila! Without them knowing it, they've suddenly become your mentor!
They may not consider you an official 'mentee', but they are your 'experienced and trusted advisor'.
So....all this being said - now what?
Find one person on Facebook or LinkedIn that you haven't chatted with in a while and message them to catch up! :)
Please send me a message with what you've picked up and how it benefited you - I'd love to see how this is impacting your life. This way, I don't quit writing. Jokes. =D
Until next time,
In January 2015, I finally acted on a recommendation from a friend to try out www.750words.com (hereby referred to as 750).
750 is a site that tracks the daily habit of writing, measured by a minimum of 750 words.
When you first log in, the simplicity of the site is beautiful; you are staring at a blank screen. You can write about whatever topic your heart desires and it auto-saves every few minutes in case you get lost along the way. As I began writing, the topics ranged from religion to career to money to relationships and bounced everywhere.
Here are the top 4 benefits I've noticed so far.
1. It allows for weekly reflection.
Once a week, I use 750 to answer four simple questions to reflect on the previous week.
- What did you learn?
- What would you do differently if you could do it again?
- Who should I call that I haven't talked to in a while that I want to have a meaningful relationship with?
- Who can I surround myself with to better myself and the people around us
2. It allows you to puke.
When you're with your friends, there is often the need to puke to them about your problems. I'm not sure if this has ever happened when you talk to friends at work:
I can safely raise my hand and say that I'm guilty of this on a regular basis. To avoid being a complainer, I've now resorted to dumping my complaints and ill-feelings into 750 so that I can move on with my life. The act of writing allows you to release all the pent-up feelings.
3. It allows you to consolidate your thoughts into clear ideas, which then allows you to act on it.
Most people have an average number of 10,000 thoughts in any given day. However, out of these 10,000 thoughts, a lot of them are repeat-thoughts!
This means that you're thinking about the same situations and problems multiple times throughout any given day, with no conclusions or resolutions. Top performers (people who get things done) tend to be able to focus on single tasks for longer periods of time.
One thing that I've loved about 750 is the ability to dump all of my feelings and situations onto the screen in front of me so that I can either
a) dive deeper into introspection for clarification or
b) decide on my next actions.
4. It reveals your heart and mind.
Once you've finished for the day, 750's algorithms take your writing into analysis mode and spits out a summary.
As you can see, it will show you whether you're positive or negative, introverted or extroverted, and what topic you're concerned mostly with.
It also shows you which perspective you're speaking from the most, whether you use the word "I", "You", "We", or "They" most commonly.
You'll be able to see how long it took you to complete your writing, how many distractions, and your average WPM.
Try 750 and let me know what happens! :)
With an empty notepad and an open heart, we lift our eyes to God to inspire and enable us, so that we may be catalysts for His kingdom.
.Those were the thoughts impressed upon me just minutes before the #CatalystOneDay conference opened up for the day. Catalyst is a Christian leadership conference that drives insight and leaves lessons that spread across various areas of our lives. I initially learnt about Catalyst after reading Brad Lomenick's book, H3 Leadership. Intrigued, I ventured down to Kirkland, WA to see what the movement was all about.
The most common pandemic that organizations seem to experience is a severe and utter lack of leadership, resulting in a constant talent/brain drain. Quite often in my role, I share with business owners a Towers and Watson survey that shows that 66% of employees are disengaged. Perhaps we need better leaders who can invoke change...
Throughout the conference, each session peeled back the layers on leadership, revealing a deep need for us to take ownership in serving others
Here are the 3 biggest things I learnt at Catalyst2016.
Learn more at www.catalystoneday.com
1. Lead Up.
Speaker: Craig Groeschel
Before you can be a leader, you must lead up to being a leader.
Your ability to lead up now will help determine your ability to move up later. Leading up looks like providing value that surpasses what people currently expect of you. The biggest myth about leadership is that you have to be in charge in order to lead. Yet, people will follow a leader with a heart faster than a leader with a title. Leaders with the right heart give to an organization and support its growth without thinking of themselves first. Instead of asking how much can you get from your organization, how can you serve with humility, lighten your leader's load, and care about the people around you?
It's not about who you are, it's about who you get to be.
What would a great leader do?
What would your life look like if you replaced the word 'leader' with son/mentor/husband/brother/fiancée/friend?
2. Don't find great leaders, develop great leaders.
The most common question people ask is 'Where do you find great leaders?'
However, the right question should be 'How do you develop great leaders?'
According to Craig Groeschel, the 4 Steps to Build Great Leaders are:
A. Identify talent that others overlook. What are some talents that you seen in others that can be nurtured? These talents may not appear to be obvious right away, but often are intangible character traits like drive, initative, resilience and humility.
B. Attract them to a vision bigger than themselves. Nobody gets excited about jobs or an endless task list. What people get excited about is something that they can find fulfillment in while they grow it.
C. Develop them to go further than they thought possible. Can you believe in people more than they believe in themselves? When they hit their lid on performance, how can you help them break belief barriers?
D. Empower them to fulfill a lifetime in ministry. Success breeds confidence and it's only a matter of time before your racehorses start running. It's your job to get out of the way once they clearly see their path ahead of them.
3. Less is more
Speaker: Andy Stanley
The Two Best-Kept Secrets of Leadership
A. The less you do, the more you accomplish.
B. The less you do, the more you enable others to accomplish.
The target: Only do what only you can do.
With everything else, maximize other people and their strengths; allow them to grow.
Think back to how you gained leadership skills. You were given an opportunity, you did a great job, so you were given another opportunity, and it kept on going. So how do you think you develop leaders? Where can you give them the opportunity to lead?
So then, how do you allow people to fail?
- Celebrate and learn from failures as much as you do with successes.
- Try/play around with experimentation.
- Create a culture that allows for failure.
When your people come to you for a decision, practice encouraging them:
'You know, that's your area - I'll let you make that decision.'
It's easier to educate a doer than to motivate a thinker.
The biggest thing I got out of today was leadership isn't about getting things done right, it's about getting things done through the right people. When we do things we don't do well, things don't go well. Figure out that you should do what only you can do, then help others figure that out. Before long, you've got a bunch of strength-maximizers building momentum together.
Think of a train building up speed, slowly at the start, but then by the time it's reached full speed, it is very hard to stop.
Who will you have on your train with you?
"I want to reach my potential."
A lot of people confide that they are depressed or disheartened because they aren't maximizing their potential.
The phrases "I'm sick of being mediocre" and "I was meant to do more" frequently arise in conversation. However, potential is a very overwhelming concept. It personifies the best, no, the perfect version of ourselves. Oftentimes, this idealized version of ourselves seems difficult and unattainable to us because it's someone we hope that we can become someday, just not today. It's almost as if we could place a projector on our head that depicted our future potential self in front of us, but no matter how far we run towards it, it'll still be just out of reach.
Potential' is defined as 'latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.' This implies that our potential is something inherent, that we have a responsibility to reach our full potential and make the most of what we are given. Yet, it is large and abstract enough to scare us, deter us from trying.
For instance, I had a classroom full of kids recently tell me that I should be a rapper because they thought I had pretty awesome 'flow'. They asked me why I hadn't pursued my dreams because they could see my potential. When a group of kids are telling you that you should have done something else with your life, isn't that great? However, when that happened, suddenly we have an image of Jay's future self as Jay the Billboard Top 40 Rapper. We immediately contrast that with today, where Jay is not rapping at all and think about ALL of the tasks and hours needed to get there. Instead of being something that is inspiring and motivating, becoming a rapper turns into more of a wistful thought.
I see the same thing happen time and time again when people hear that I run half marathons and marathons. For people who are fairly athletic, there's a slight nod of mutual respect for trying to achieve a difficult accomplishment. However, for people who don't see themselves as fit at all, the conversation becomes entirely different. These unfit people will usually exclaim "Wow, 21.5 kilometres? That's more than I'll walk in a year!" To which I might say something like "Oh, yes, the half-marathons are long, but they're very doable with the proper training. In fact, you could probably do one by next year with the right planning. There's the potential for anyone to do a half-marathon!"
At this point, the dichotomy of the present self meets the image of a future marathon runner, thinks about the difference between the state of their body now and where it should be, and completely shuts down. "Oh, I can see how you can run those distances because of your slim build, but I could never do that" They lament, pushing their potential self off to one side.
That's a bunch of nonsense.
Of course, you can run a half-marathon if you planned for it.
However, our potential becomes our barrier.
If our potential becomes our barrier, is there any other way of dealing with improving ourselves?
The Other Way
Instead, may I propose a change in thinking?
What if, instead of seeking to reach your full potential, you simply sought to fulfill your capacity?
The word capacity is defined as "the ability or power to do, experience, or understand something." Notice how different the words 'potential' and 'capacity' are.
With potential, one must somehow unlock a latent ability.
With capacity, one simply must execute on an ability they already have.
Continuing within the running example (sorry, it's easiest since I'm a runner), you could simply ask them if they've ever run, or how much they've run before.
Most people can manage 2-3km, even if they're just walking.
In high school, it was one of our long runs, so it's not too much of a challenge.
It sure seems a heck of a lot easier than running 21.5km.
Let's say they want to commit to half-marathon, but are too intimidated by the distance.
An alternative approach is to get their mind off of the potential of running 21.5km and instead invite them to go on a 3km jog every second weeknight, which is enough to give them the confidence to work within their current capacity. Inform them that the plan is to simply increase that capacity slowly each week.
This is why most marathoners train with a running schedule.
It's not about reaching their potential, it's about incrementally increasing their capacity to run long distances week after week.
Words are everything, so how you frame situations is how they affect your perspective.
Consider these other alternative ways of framing things
- opportunity instead of challenge
- situation instead of problem
- concern instead of objection
- doable instead of difficult
- learning instead of failing
What other better ways of framing things can you think of?
A blog on my continuing journey through life, covering self-development and success strategies, but also personal reflection.