Monthly Archives: May 2012

Own it.

Friday Night Lights is one of my all-time favorite TV shows.  In fact, I’ll go ahead and declare it second only to The West Wing for me.

I recently recalled a scene from season 1 where one of the players (“Smash” Williams)  during practice is shouting to one of his slacker teammates (Tim Riggins):

“You’re making us look weak.  If one person fumbles the ball, we all fumble the ball.  If one of us shows up half drunk, we all show up half drunk. We ain’t got time for your games.  We’ve got a game to win.”

Now if you aren’t a Friday Nights Lights fan yet, you can’t appreciate this to the extent that I wish you could, as Smash and Riggins have quite a bit of animosity toward one another, both are talented players, but one is driven and invested and the other is not (at least not yet).

In leadership we talk a lot about the importance of teamwork and recruiting “team players.”  If I have a soapbox about anything, it’s followership.  I’m a big believer in playing well with others and submitting to authority.  However, I realized sitting on an airplane a few days ago that I want more than that out of my team and I think you should, too.

You can get along and help each other out and be supportive all you want, but until you fully commit (that is, until you realize that whether it’s your “job” or not, whether it’s your responsibility or not is fairly inconsequential) simply being a “team player” isn’t enough.

I want a team full of committed, creative, responsible, smart people.

People who realize that our own successes and failures are felt beyond our own individual “portfolios” 

People who realize that we are only as successful individually as we are corporately

People who realize that our failures and our choices aren’t made in a vacuum

People who realize that when one of us fumbles, we all fumble

People who are in it to win it

I want owners, not just players.  Owners know what is at stake.  Owners are personally, emotionally, and financially invested in the success of the endeavor.  Owners don’t blame shift or pass the buck.  They are less interested in how the ball got dropped as much as how we can ensure it doesn’t get dropped again.  Owners are builders and not maintainers.  Owners are a bit restless and a bit hungry.  They have a “what’s next?” attitude that sets them apart.  If we are sticking with the football analogy, these are the ones who keep moving the ball down the field.

Sure, training and experience matter.  But a person who demonstrates a capacity for ownership  and responsibility will distinguish themselves far and away from any lengthy resume.  I’d much prefer to teach someone a skill set than try to cultivate a passion or sense of ownership.  That’s infinitely more difficult to do.

If you find yourself in a position of leadership and are looking to staff a team, look for owners.  We don’t necessarily need teams full of leaders and visionaries so much as we need teams full of owners on every level, in every position.

The work to be done is challenging enough without the added unnecessary task of motivating people to care.  Owners come with care built in already.

If you are looking for a place to serve, applying for a job, joining a team, make the decision to own what you are spending your time and energy on. It will make the work more rewarding and the sacrifices worth it.

I know I’ve mixed metaphors here a bit between sports and business, but I hope the through line is clear enough:

We’ve got a game to win.

And in the words of the best football coach of all time, Coach Eric Taylor:

CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS, CAN’T LOSE!

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I’ve Got a Question.

There is an ongoing joke with the people nearest me about my “spiritual gift” of asking questions.  I love asking questions and the learning that comes along with it.

I am curious.  About everything.  All of the time.

I have way more questions than you have answers for or time to entertain.

If you are around me long enough you’ll be subject to my random questions and come to either find it endearing or annoying, or perhaps both!

If you were to drop into a Renovatus staff meeting on a Tuesday morning, you’d likely witness our team with index cards in front of them answering 5 questions I just threw out to them related to the topic I’m speaking from.

There are many things about leading a team and running a church that do not come naturally to me.  I’m not very strategic.  I’m not process driven. I’m not task-minded.  I like helping.  I like keeping the peace.  Nevertheless, here I am responsible for a lot of people and resources on a daily basis.  Thankfully, the one thing that is instinctive for me is asking questions.

This got me thinking about how asking questions is a really valuable practice.

And because I like lists almost as much as I like questions, I decided to write down a few reasons why I think asking questions is incredibly important and healthy:

1.  Shows honor & concern– When someone asks you a question about yourself or for your perspective, it’s validating.  It communicates respect, interest, and care.  We live in a wildly individualistic, egocentric world.  It is counter cultural and perhaps even counter intuitive to take the time to look someone in the eyes and ask them a meaningful question.

2.  Fosters humility– We often feel the need to know everything (which is silly and another rant for another time) and asking questions reminds us that we can’t and don’t have all the answers.  It acknowledges our need for people and things outside of ourselves, which incidentally, is really helpful at keeping our pride in check.

3.  Creates space for vulnerability, trust and intimacy to formPeople are open to people who are open to them.  It’s amazing the relationships and opportunities that are birthed by curiosity or a well-timed question.  We all appreciate the opportunity to explain ourselves and take ownership of our responses.  Asking questions (as opposed to speaking in the declarative all of the time) often lowers defenses and increases our receptivity to what another person is trying to communicate.

4.  Challenges mindsets and ruts– My dear friend Amanda once said “it’s a spiritual discipline to break your routine.”  I think about that a lot in a number of different contexts.  In this particular one I’d simply say that asking questions breaks us out of our routines, out of our box.  This is a very, very good thing.  We can all think of a time when we were challenged, for better or for worse, by having to answer the question “why?” for doing something the way we do.

5.  Produces good leaders– Your effectiveness as a leader (and maybe more broadly, as a human being?) is correlative to your desire and discipline to learn.  Whether this is in personal relationships or developing new skills at work or picking up a new hobby at home, asking questions is a great way to learn and an easy place to start.  Additionally, asking questions is a great way to help develop leaders around you!

6.  Keeps us open to wonder & gratitude– This is more abstract, but just as important.  Asking questions keeps our eyes open to new ideas, to see beauty in the world, to dream new dreams, to recognize the gifts around us and to be grateful for it all.

Are you seeing all the potential & possibilities wrapped up in questions?!

I know none of this is novel or earth shattering, but hopefully it’s a good reminder of how we can communicate and lead and love one another really well.

Start with a question and see where it takes you.