A group of suppliers was given a tour of a mental hospital. One of the visitors in the group made some very insensitive and insulting remarks about the patients. After the tour was completed, the visitors were introduced and met with various members of the mental hospital staff in the cafeteria. The unkind visitor chatted with one of the security staff, Bill, a kind and wise ex-policeman. “Are they all sick and crazy loonies in here then?” the insensitive and rude visitor asked. “Only the ones who fail the test,” replied Bill. “What is the test?” asked the man. Bill replied, “Well, we show them a bath filled with water, a large bucket, a large cup and a spoon. We then ask them what the quickest way to empty the water in the bath would be.” The man said, “Oh, I see… that is pretty simple – the ‘normal one’ knows it’s the bucket, right?” “No actually,” replied Bill. “The normal ones say pull out the plug. Should I see if there is a bed free for you?”
Sometimes, we can get so focused on seeing the weaknesses of others that we lose sight of our own development needs. However, before we look to develop others, it is wise to do our own personal inventory. What areas might be personally hindering your ability to lead? What gaps have you identified that might be diminishing your leadership capacity?
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell created the notion that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. He claimed that anyone could achieve a level of proficiency that would rival that of a professional regardless of a person’s natural aptitude. Since then it has actually been suggested that 10,000 hours may not even be enough! Whether 10,000 hours is or isn’t enough, one thing is for sure, that it will take time to perfect your skill, gift, or talent. How many hours have you logged? This is a question that we need to ask ourselves often and answer honestly. I myself read constantly. I also listen to podcasts and cd’s of those that know more than me in my areas of expertise. Knowing your purpose is one thing. A commitment to honing your gift so that you can more effectively carry out your purpose is quite another thing.
What do you think about on a daily basis? Do you typically think only about what others could do better? Or do you contemplate what you could do better? The thoughts you think will determine how you lead. For example, our vacuum cleaner has a clear receptacle, allowing you to see the dirt, dust, and grime being removed from the floors as it vacuums. Every week after I vacuum the receptacle is full. Every week there is more dirt, dust and grime. Likewise, everyday we have the potential to pick up bad habits, or entertain things, thoughts, and temptations that may pollute our lives. We are the vacuum cleaner in this analogy and we need to be cleansed of the harmful elements we consume on a daily basis. How do you regulate the thoughts that you think? Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Is there a right and wrong way to fulfill your purpose in life? I know that seems like a simple question but if we look at our society it appears to be a very difficult question on which to reach consensus. I once heard Dr. Ravi Zacharias speak to the fact that we teach our college students that morality is relative and then when they get into the real world and run businesses in an unethical manner we put them in jail. This seems backwards. But if there are no moral absolutes then we are left with only moral relativisms. Do you have absolutes that you will not violate? Proverbs 16:10-11 reads, “Divination is on the lips of the king; his mouth must not transgress in judgment. Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are His work.” As kings (leaders) we can’t allow the temptation of dishonest gains to subvert our understanding of right and wrong. Righteous leaders do right even when everyone else is looking to the left.
“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” – Ray Kroc
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