1. Everyone has a story.
People are who they are because of their story. If you don’t necessarily like someone’s behavior, shift your focus on their story and it will give the needed context. Spend more time trying to unlock the “why” than trying to “fix” and “change”. Also, people choose to run with you because of your ears (listening) and eyes (attentiveness) more so than your mouth.
2. When serving under another leader, embrace the fact that you don’t have all the information.
The first chair, the big desk, the corner office is privy to information that you will not have in your second chair, hall office or broom closet. Before making a strong judgment on your leader’s decisions, or being frustrated because things aren’t moving quickly enough, remind yourself that you just don’t know all of the details. It will save you a lot of bad attitude for which you will have to repent of later.
3. The thing you are doing isn’t the most important thing in the world…
It is to you, but to everyone else it may not be. Don’t get frustrated when others don’t seem to care as much as you do. That’s called being the leader. Also, be empathetic to the fact that the people around you have lives which require much attention. Ultimately, you have to answer for it so it will always matter more to you. You wanted to be the leader, right?
4. Your soul is more valuable than your success.
This seems obvious, but I am not talking about your eternal salvation. I am talking about your peace, your joy, your sense of hope, your optimism, how you view people, your clarity of thought, your internal dialogue, etc. What we traditionally call success (measurable, upward trajectory results) does not necessarily produce a healthy soul. Success will not make everything better. Actually, success can reinforce an unhealthy soul.
5. But don’t allow “soul health” to become an illegitimate excuse to keep you from grinding.
Make no mistake, anything you want in life requires some grinding. And while we must develop a healthy pace and rhythm, hard work is a requirement. Hours invested matter. That’s not just the time clock. Time invested in sharpening your skills…Time given to add the extra detail…Time given when no one is watching…Time given when the conventional work hours have passed. Time given when others are sleeping…Leaders aren’t allowed to keep time on the same clock as everyone else.
6. Develop grit.
Toughness is a very underrated trait. It would be wise to be conscious of developing it as a core value. Life can get difficult but life doesn’t stop. People can hurt you but that doesn’t validate abandoning the assignment on your life. If you aren’t tough, you won’t make it. Period. You will find something else to do that hurts less. The problem is, if you don’t have grit, everything hurts more than it should. If you are prone to get your feelings hurt, want to pout or you enjoy people feeling bad for you…go to Jesus and find some grit. Don’t guard your heart or put up walls. Just develop enough toughness that the hits won’t take you out. Grit will help with the grind as well (ask the Memphis Grizzlies…they lost their Grit-N-Grind and they are horrible now).
7. Learn to identify the difference between job description and assignment.
Expectations are connected to every job you will have. Within those expectations, whether in the form of a written job description or simply understood, there are going to be things you do not love doing. Never allow parts of the job description that you don’t enjoy, or feel less equipped to handle, to frustrate or sour you to the degree that they impede your ability to carry out your assignment. Your assignment is the thing that makes your heart pound, incites your passion and keeps you awake at night. It is the overarching idea of what you are trying to accomplish. Your job description sometimes works in harmony with your assignment. Other times your job description doesn’t seem to be related to your assignment much at all. I have allowed it to happen to myself and watched it happen to many, but a job description item shouldn’t be given the authority to affect your heart and deter you from the assignment.
8. Give honor. A lot of it. Especially to those who are older.
None of us stand where we stand as self-made people. Some paved the way before us. Others invested in us. Own that fact. It is wise to be conscious of and respect what those people value. Wear a suit if its appropriate, it’s not religious to do so. Give good gifts. Offer words of encouragement. Say thank you for the opportunity, frequently. Instead of being defensive about your lack of experience, embrace it and pay respect to those with more. Affirm your leaders’ strengths. Don’t feel your voice always needs to be added to the conversation. Shake hands, smile and say something genuine. Occasionally pay your respects with a reminder of how the person has positively affected your life. To be clear, none of this is brown nosing or flattery…it’s honor that you would love to receive yourself.
9. Live below your means and be generous.
You may not have much to write home about when it comes to “means”, but live below that. When you choose to not buy something now, you are making a payment into your future peace and flexibility. If you can ever get ahead financially, a few months ahead of paycheck to paycheck, you will be amazed at how your day-to-day stress is dissipated. But don’t shirk generosity. You will never go wrong giving more than your tithe. You will not regret giving more into the kingdom than you “owe”.
10. Embrace who you ARE and embrace who you ARE NOT.
I wrote a blog post on this in December that you can read right here. The sooner you stop comparing yourself and feeling bad because you aren’t what someone else is, the better. The sooner you identify your superior qualities, the better. While I do believe we tend to be capable of more things than we realize, and that necessity is often the mother of invention, the less distracted we are by pursuits that are not synced with our wiring, the better. Also, stop feeling diminished because someone with a genius IQ is actually smarter than you, or someone with a superb oratory ability talks better, or someone with a ridiculous voice sings better. Embrace who you are.