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I spend a lot of time on airplanes these days. I love getting to work with amazing organizations across the country but that inevitably means hours and hours in airports. All these miles I’ve logged have afforded me the opportunity to have “status” on most airlines. I thoroughly enjoy the perks of better seats and early boarding but I’ve noticed something interesting … my peers with privileges also seem to be the most unhappy and entitled passengers. It’s a competitive arena where you push and elbow your way to be first among the firsts.
From a leadership perspective I can’t help but wonder what all of this is producing in me … in us? I see an ever-increasing loss of respect for one another. The irritability and sometimes outright anger that emerges over sometimes trivial things worries me both in others and especially so when I see it in myself.
Perhaps the stressors of flying, especially for those who travel nearly daily, breeds a disproportionate amount of the ugly I see in our culture. But I guess I fear that it’s a symptom of what is permeating this day and time. I see it in the news. I see it in our neighbors. I see it in our leaders.
Fear. Anger. Distrust. Suspicion. Competition. Selfishness. Greed.
I believe great leaders could change this course. Every significant moment in history was led by leaders who were committed to another way. Leaders who acted counter-culturally. Leaders who selflessly did what was right rather than what was popular or comfortable.
Too many leaders are leading with a short-term, self-focused perspective. I see it in myself and I’m fighting for a new perspective. I’m fighting to lead with the long view. I’m fighting to lead with less attention to my comfort and more commitment to the good of those around me.
Currently I’m reading Eugene Peterson’s book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction and this quote captured a thought I’m grappling with:
Every day I put love on the line. There is nothing I am less good at than love. I am far better in competition than in love. I am far better at responding to my instincts and ambitions to get ahead and make my mark than I am at figuring out how to love another. I am schooled and trained in acquisitive skills, in getting my own way. And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily – open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.
That last line wrecks me – daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.
Leaders, I believe this tide in culture would shift if we would go first in choosing to lead like this.
What does this look like for you?
What do you see in the culture around you?
What impact could you have today if you chose to lead with love on the line?