Fostering the growth of young leaders is something I’ve found to be one of my greatest passions in life and is a primary goal of our ministry Unashamed Impact. This article looks at some of the common hindrances that I not only have experienced in my own journey of purpose, but also find locking up the greatest potential of many around me. If you find yourself struggling with the issues below, I ask that you take whatever time is necessary to confront them. We can’t change what we’re not willing to confront.
- Unclear Communication
Say what you mean, mean what you say and say it boldly. If you don’t believe in what you’re saying there’s a good chance others won’t either. Make sure your thoughts are in order before presenting your ideas. If the concept isn’t simple and clear, it may get lost in translation. What are you trying to accomplish and how do you want to go about it? This applies not only to business but is also the key to effective and influential relationships. What are your expectations? Make the grey areas clear so that nothing is left to assumption.
- Fear of Failure
This is a very common fear. The pressure is great to live up to others’ expectations, as well as your own image of yourself, in order to accomplish what you’ve set out to do. A lot of people drop out of the race early from the simple fear of “measuring up.” But it is those who risk pushing the limits who get to see how far they can really go. Sure, mistakes will be made, but they’re proof that you’re trying. A leader’s approach to making a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct it, and learn from it. This literally can turn a failure into a success.
- Captivity to Opinions
What people think about you is none of your business! You take care of your character and your reputation will take care of itself. You can never truly be who you are if you’re constantly conforming to who people want you to be. You’ll soon find that you cannot please everyone nor be everything to everybody. That is the quickest way to lose yourself and the unique qualities that make you you. Instead of trying to be a second-rate imitation of someone else, be a first-rate version of you. A leader is one who goes the way and shows the way – principle-centered not people-centered. How can we change the world if we look just like it? We diminish our genuine effectiveness trying to be anyone other than ourselves.
Develop a healthy self-talk. Self awareness is literally the ability to think about how we think. And the fact that you can separate yourself from your thoughts and review them, proves that you are not your thoughts. So instead of meditating on the opinions of others, first develop a healthy meditation of yourself.
- Outside-In Thinking
One of the most toxic ways of thinking is from the “outside-in.” This is the mentality that everything around us must change before we can change or move or make a difference. Not only is it paralyzing but it’s completely false. This type of thinking excuses us from all responsibility and is always driven by feelings, opinions, and circumstance. (“There’s nothing I can do. That’s just the way I am…”)
“Inside-out” thinking means to first start with the most inside part of self – your character and motives. Focus your effort on the things that can be done. You take responsibility and stop blaming everything around you for your behavior. As a result, the nature of your influence literally begins to amplify, magnifying positive results.
Consistency not only builds a foundation of trust with others but it develops an inner integrity within us, establishing self-control and proof that we can take on more responsibility, which fosters growth.
- Lack of Dedication
Things happen – sometimes in our control and sometimes out of our control. There are days we find ourselves letting the trials of life paralyze us emotionally, spiritually and physically. But this is where we find a mix of inside-out thinking and consistency, as stated before. We need to take the responsibility to do what we can do, no matter the circumstance, and do it consistently. That is perseverance. When we dedicate ourselves to this, we truly start to become effective leaders.
- Personal Imbalance
We ought to keep our priorities in line. You are the vehicle driving this vision forward. But what happens if you don’t take care of the vehicle? It may run, but it’s only a matter of time before it breaks down. Sometimes we focus so much on production that we forget to take care of the producer. Take a sanity break each day where you’re not centered on the urgencies of the week. Be proactive against mental breakdowns.
Know the difference between what’s urgent and what’s important. Some things that abruptly grab your attention compel you to move, but stop and think “big picture.” Can it wait? Is this important or just urgent? Don’t forsake what’s important for what’s urgent. That phone call can wait in order to spend time with your family. We want to operate from a place of balance, not keep trying to run on fumes.
- Being Problem-Minded
Problems will arise; that’s life. But often how we look at the problem is the problem. Effective leaders are not problem-centered, they’re solution-centered. They are opportunity-minded. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, meditate on how to make it right. The combination of our conscience to do the right thing, our imagination to envision possible solutions, and the free will to do it can turn obstacles into opportunities.
- Careless Listening
The problem today is that everyone wants to be heard while few want to listen. We want to influence the masses with our voice without genuinely tuning into the voices around us. But the truth is that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And I don’t mean phony interest – anything less than genuine can be sensed, even by a child.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Instead of listening with intent to jump in at your next opportunity, filtering everything through your own opinions, really listen to understand from another person’s point of view. We can’t be effective with another until we fully understand those with whom we come into contact.
- Satisfaction with Educational Achievements
The more you learn, the more you realize what you don’t know. It would be ignorant to think that you know everything you need to know. It would be wise to continue to read, go to conferences, take classes, listen to podcasts, etc. in order to grow in your field of “expertise.” Invest in your vision and the brain that carries it.
If there’s anything you’ve struggled with or overcome as a growing leader, feel free to add on to my list!