Sunday, September 30, 2012

Standing in the Gap

     I came across this picture on Google search this week.  The location is in a Norwegian mountain called Kjerag.  The actual name of the rock the person is standing on is called Kjeragbolten.  In Norwegian it means "Kjerag Boulder".  If you were brave enough to take a step and stand on the rock you would be looking down to a little over a 3,000 feet view to the water.  According to experts the boulder was deposited there as the glaciers were receding at the end of the Ice Age.  As I sit in my easy chair in my nice cozy home I am pretty sure I would be brave enough to step onto the boulder and enjoy view.  Take a view pictures and even try to jump up and down to get the boulder to move!  Right.  Big talk for someone that hasn't even got on the plane to Norway.

     This boulder reminds me of Bible phrase out of Ezekiel.  It's actually Ezekiel 22:30.  In this verse God is talking about his search for a man to "Stand in the Gap" on behalf of the land so he would not have to destroy it.  The land was Jerusalem.  God was about to bring his judgment upon the people because of their sins.  In the Bible there has been several examples of someone stepping up and standing in the gap.  Look at Moses, he pleaded to God to have mercy on the Israelites that were turning their back on God.  God had rescued them from years of slavery in Egypt and now in the middle of the desert they were turning their back on Him.  It was no wonder he was furious with them.  

     Ever been in that situation?  You have done everything possible to help someone out and they just turn their back on you and do what they want to do.  They don't listen and they even rebell against everything that they should be doing.  Makes you furious because of the effort you have put forth to help someone out.  What kind of courage does it take to step onto the boulder and stand in the gap for someone.  To forget the view from 3,000 feet is there enough courage in each one of us?  Maybe or maybe not.  What if we forgot about the circumstances, disappointment, and anger.  What if we focused on the affect of standing in the gap can do to the world around us?  What if standing in the gap didn't change the person we were trying to help but it changed the people that are watching.  Would we enjoy the view much better?  Would it be much easier to have the courage and step on the boulder and stand in the gap?  

     Leaders have to do this.  When no one wants to do it, scared to do it, or doesn't have the energy to do it.  They stand in the gap.  Sure you do it to try and save someone from themselves.  But honestly, if that is our motivation it can get old because if people don't care about themselves why should you.   We are only human.  Leaders do it because it is the right thing to do.  In Moses' situation he knew if the Israelites were spared they would glorify God at a later time.  That's why leaders step up onto the boulder.  They stand in the gap because it is for the greater good.   Enjoy the view.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Build a Bridge to Relate


     Throughout my career I have read a lot of information on leadership.  When I was coaching I read.  When I was a classroom teacher I read.  When I become a building, and eventually a district administrator, I still read.  Everything I read was informative and help build my skills to lead in the capacity I was working.  Not all of the material I read would discuss, on what I have come to know, the most important skill to have as a leader.   Don't get me wrong a lot of what I read was very helpful.  The authors and the leaders that lead me gave me some great advice.  Such advice as, be someone people can trust.  Or be competent at your job.  Work hard and show up on time.  I had to work on the last one early on in my career.  Actually it was just the showing up part because I tended to skip class in college.  Put it this way when the instructor handed out the course syllabus and outlined how many times I could skip the class before a grade was dropped to the next level, they gave me exactly what I needed to know.  I can miss five times and still get a "C" in Physics!  What a deal!  

     Hands down the most important skill a leader can have is the relationships in which they have with the people in their lives.  Famous educator Madeline Hunter was quoted in saying, "People don't care about what you know until they know that you care".  Old age philosophy that holds a lot of truth in today's world.  Want to influence people?  Then build a relationship with them.  People have to get to know you and you have to get to know them.  How does this work?  You spend time working with people.  I am not talking about stopping and saying hello every once in while.  Leaders can't expect to keep people at arms length and then turn around and try to influence people.  Keeping people at a distance will do exactly that, keep them away. 

     Not sure?  Let's take a page from Lee Iacocca's experience.  Yes, the same Lee Iacocca former CEO of Chrysler.  After being introduced as the new CEO of Chrysler Mr. Iacocca had wonder what he had gotten himself into.  Chrysler was on the verge of bankruptcy.  One of the first things he did was go to the floor of his Chrysler plants and spend time with the workers.   The people that show up everyday.  Pay attention Mr. Class Skipper!   Sorry, that was just for me.  These people had put their lives into this business and they sure didn't want to see it go down the tubes.  Mr. Iacocca not only spent time and built a relationship with them but mostly importantly in the relationship he listened.  When you lead you spend time with people.  Leaders with influence get in the trenches and put themselves in other's shoes.  Sure there are things to be done in the office but getting out and getting in touch will put a leader in  perspective with the world around them.  

     Want to know how missionaries have influence in the most ungodly places on this earth?  They live in the same places those people live in.  The eat the same food.  They drink the same drink.  They live in the same conditions with the people they want to influence.  Want to influence and relate to people?  Then get into their environment and build a relationship with them.  Last Sunday we had missionaries from Nepal speak at our church.   Nepal is about the same size of the state of Tennessee.   Even though it's a small country it is one of the most rugged mountainous areas on our planet.  On its northern border between Nepal and China is the Great Himalayan Range.  This range consists of eight of the ten highest mountains on earth.  The highest being Mount Everest.  In order to reach the people in these remote mountain villages they must live in the same area.  Sleeping in a soft hotel bed and eating a continental breakfast isn't going to happen for these missionaries.  They have to pack drinking water from a two hour hike.  I bet they are in shape!  They are influencing the people on their agenda because the people around them see that the missionaries are carrying on through the same circumstances that they are living in.

     Are you wanting to be a leader in which influences the people in your realm?  Build a relationship with them.  Be sure it is an appropriate relationship that doesn't cross any lines.  Do it for the right reasons.  Don't just do it to get something back from them.   Do it because you deeply care about them as a human being.  Do it just because it is the right thing to do.  Is it hard to do?  It doesn't have to be.  Start it by just asking how their day is going or ask the their opinion on helping solve a specific problem.   As leaders of influence if we are present and engaged in the conversations and the activities of the people around us, then it won't be very hard at all to build a relationship.

      We can even do it in this blog.  Have some input?  Post a comment.  Tell me I shouldn't have skipped classes in college.  Post it, and I will give some lame excuses on why it sounded like a good idea at the time.  Playing snooker at the college student center would be my favorite excuse.  It was fun at the time until the moment the instructor walked through the student center after class was over.  Awkward!  Until he said, "So this is where you guys go".  We all would enjoy the feedback from you.  Because through this blog we can build relationship so, I can lead, You can lead, and We can lead together. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Who Do You Influence?

     Since you already know a little about me from my profile section I will just go ahead and give you some insight to this blog.  I picked the name "I Lead 100" because that is how many people that I lead through out my profession and personal life.  Anyone from a classroom teacher, maintenance workers, custodians, bus drivers, coaches, family members, members of a Bible study, and even fellow colleagues are the people that I have had an opportunity to lead.  The number can vary based on my circumstances.  They can go up or down.  Either way I generally average 100 most weeks.

     If you lead someone or a group of people you also have the same opportunity.  It does not have to be in a profession, you can lead someone or some people in your personal life.  Either way leading people is all about how much influence we can have of them.  Our realm of influence can be on a small scale of one or an enormous number of several thousands and even millions.  President of a nation?  They lead millions.  Mother of a child?  Teacher of student?   You still lead and have an influence.  Lead one or one million you can have an influence on the world around you.

     Consider this, who had more influence?  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our 32nd President, who lead our nation through one of the worst economic depression and one of our worlds largest and most destructive war in World War II.  His influence on our country is well documented and "stuff" that movies are made up of.  His New Deal programs put people back to work and established programs and facilities that exist in communities across our nation.  Hoover Dam.  Was a New Deal project.  The old swimming pool in your community.  A New Deal project under the Work Project Administration (WPA).  He connected with people through his radio "Fire Side Chats" during his term as the Governor of New York and the President of the United States.  This was one of the first times a President used the method of radio to talk to people.   During the rough times of the depression and a world war, FDR used these chats to connect with the masses and give them hope.  He used this venue to influence.  Often times he would begin his talks with "Good evening friends"  He urged the listeners to have faith. Faith in banks, faith in the New Deal measures, and most importantly faith in themselves.  He influenced a nation of people.

     Did he have more impact than the person that influenced him?  If you asked most people who Sara Ann Delano was and her impact on history, unless they are a history professor, they would not have a clue.  Sara was Franklin's mother.   Sara was a possessive mother and was the dominant influence in Franklin's early years.  She once declared, "My son Franklin is a Delano, not a Roosevelt at all."  Her influence would help mold Franklin and the man he would eventually be when he led our nation through our most turbulent times.

     Or was it Endicott Peabody?  Franklin's Headmaster at Groton School in which he attended.  Mr.  Peabody preached the duty of Christians to help the less fortunate and urged his students to enter in public service.  Sounds like a path for a future politician and the philosophy of putting the unemployed back to work in Franklin's New Deal programs.  Either person, Mr. Peabody or Sara Delano, could be debated on who had more influence on Franklin.  Doesn't matter, it isn't a contest, both of them had an influence that formed the thought process and soul of a young man.  A man that would have an enormous impact on millions of people in our nation and around the world.

     What about you?  Are you an influencer?  Do you lead one or one hundred?  Everyone has an influence, but we must choose what path we take.  Can we influence someone for the greater good or lead people astray.  Are you a builder or a destroyer of people?  I choose to be a builder and so can you.  Through this blog I will try and do just that, build people up.  Hopefully my time will allow that I can post something each week.  It might include a little bit of everything.  From a short history lesson, like the one posted today, or something with a Biblical spin on it.  It will generally be tied to an area I am passionate about.  Leadership.  I would enjoy your posts and any comments you might have.  It is my hope that we can learn through this blog, so I can lead, you can lead, and we can lead together.