Monday, July 25, 2011

The Day Everything Changed

When you stop and think about it, very few days in life are so significant that one can say, "The entire trajectory of my life just changed."  In my almost six decades, I can count them on my fingers.  Easily.  For instance, there was that day I held the hand of that cute little blond girl from college -- to (ahem) keep her from slipping on the rocks as we waded in the Verde River.  That day changed everything!

One of those course-changing days snuck up on me with the prowess of a Navy Seal silently stalking a target.  I was with three other staff members, taking a break to receive some leadership training from prolific author/teacher John Maxwell.  John was still pastoring in San Diego at the time and hadn't launched into his more recent full-time work as leadership consultant extraordinaire.  I remember driving over to the training workshop thinking, "I really need a break; I wonder if this is how burn-out feels."  I wasn't prepared for the full force of John's strong exhortation to take full responsibility for the development of my own leadership.

I'll never forget how John introduced us to a simple chart that we could use to assess our leadership ability.  "If, on a scale of 1 to 10," he said, "only a hand full of '10s' exist in the world and a "1" can't get anyone to follow, where do you see yourself?"  I recall listening to his explanation, then placing myself somewhere in the middle -- about a '5'.  John went on to explain, "If you are a '4' or '5', you may wonder why you can't get strong leaders in your church.  But, the reality is that a '7' (a very good leader) won't follow a '5'.  They intuitively look for leaders who can lead them; those whose leadership ability is equal to or greater than their own.  If you want '7s' in your church, you will need to grow to become a '7' or '8'."

The rest of his conference kept driving home a simple point: each of us must take responsibility for our own level of leadership ability.  (The same could be true for almost any ability.)  While some people may be more gifted or have a higher IQ than others, we must each decide for ourselves whether we will grow or become stale.  Growing as a leader requires a commitment to keep reading, keep listening and keep spending time with leaders who are stronger than us.

I arrived at that conference weary and wondering if I could take a Sabbatical.  I left there with boxes of books and training material I paid for out of my own pocket.  I went home and started reading and listening, a discipline I have practiced for the past fifteen years.  And I'm not done!

A reason I love the Global Leadership Summit is because it exposes me to world-class leaders; practitioners who are making a difference.  They are thinking the thoughts that help me grow.  They are facing the problems that help prepare me to face some of mine.  For two days I will be challenged, stretched and encouraged to keep moving forward.  I can't think of a place I would rather spend August 11-12.

Visit to find a location near you.  The investment is one that will reap benefits for a long time to come.