STOP to start

This past week, I heard various song lyrics that intoned, “I wanna fly!” I began to think about the desires I have to accomplish goals, fulfill a dream, or take on an adventure. I have plenty of ideas, but many times I get in my own way. I have learned that often I have to stop doing some things before I can start moving forward.

STOP judging

I don’t like being judged by people who don’t really know me: my marriage, my children, or my situation…  I don’t believe there is only one right way for all people to make it through this world, although sometimes I act like my way is the only way. There is such incredible creativity and diversity in people; judgmental, critical opinions are often completely erroneous because they come from an incomplete, only-from-the-outside perspective. If I don’t want others to judge me, I need to work at not judging others either.

STOP comparing

Often my worst enemy is myself. I compare myself to a phantom superwoman in my mind, created by uniting the best pieces of each hero I admire: my very capable boss, my creatively gifted neighbor, my compassionate caring friend, my genius intelligent mentor, my athletically chiseled trainer. My invented super-phantom is nonexistent in real life. I need to live in this world’s reality, not longingly covet a dream fantasy.

STOP holding back

At times, everyone feels inadequate in front of challenges and fearful of change. Thanks to some incredibly supportive family and friends, I have come to understand that I have a “voice” to share, and I have skills and experience to offer. No one else is just like me. If I hold back, someone misses out on my unique contribution… whether that is at home, in a friendship or at work. I want to add value to relationships and projects… I have to step out and speak up to do that.

STOP whining

One thing that frustrates me is a victim mindset, blaming someone else for lack of progress, relationships, income or any other thing desired but not attained. As much as I declare my opposition to this attitude, an honest self-evaluation proves that I blame others too… those that don’t follow me hamper my leadership, those who don’t respect me limit my effectiveness, those who don’t like me are why the friendship ends. Excuses are empty. I simply need to commit to doing and giving my best in every situation… and take responsibility for the results.

If I want to move forward… if “I wanna fly”, I will need to STOP doing these things first.

What do you need to STOP doing in order to move forward with your goals, dreams and adventures?

follow the leader is no game

The last few years, I have been in many positions of leadership. At the same time, I have always had a boss, a director or a leader over me.  I have heard seminars, been to trainings and read books about leading… I have never received input about following well.

In the New Testament, Jesus spoke of following much more often than He did of leading. It is clear that following is a choice – following Him or following the enemy. Thinking about it, I realize that being a good follower is really important. As I follow others, I reflect how well I follow Jesus.  I want to be a good follower.

What does being a good follower mean? I’ve grouped some of my first thoughts into three simple categories so I can easily evaluate how I am doing…

ATTITUDES: Heart attitude is the first place for me to look.

  • Do I pray for my leader? I mean do I really pray regularly, specifically, taking the initiative to ask about their needs? During my years as a national leader, I could count on one hand the people who asked me how they could pray for me. That was hard – I often felt alone.  I want my leaders to know that they can count on me to pray for them.
  • Do I believe the best of them?  No leader is perfect – far from it. I know I forgot to say thank you, arrived late, planned poorly, lacked vision, acted selfishly, and criticized others at times… but it was never because I woke up in the morning and decided, “I am going to intentionally be a bad leader and do harm to some people today.” Do I believe my leaders want to do their best? Do I give them grace to fail? Am I patient before passing judgement?

WORDS: Do my words indicate that I am a good follower?

  • Do I tell my leader “thank you” when I see them work hard, when they do something well, when they invest in my development? How do I speak about my leader to others? Do I express respect for their position and them personally? Do I encourage others to do the same?
  • If I don’t agree with something, do I go directly to them to clarify and understand the issue? When I led, I was so grateful for those who came and spoke to me directly – even if they were frustrated or angry with me. Those difficult conversations ultimately strengthened our relationship. Unfortunately, they were few. More often gossip, behind the back criticism, and mutiny damaged relationships. I have committed to speak directly with my leader if I am unsure of something, if I don’t agree, or if I am hurt. No excuses.

ACTIONS: Do I support my leader/boss/director with my actions?

  • Do I bring a positive attitude, a servant spirit, and a learner mindset to the job each day? Or do I act entitled? Demand perks? Have a victim mindset?
  • Do I do the best work that I can for my leader? Do I work hard my full hours, take the initiative to offer suggestions, do a quality job? Do I do what I am asked? Am I honest, responsible and trustworthy? Is my leader more effective because I have his/her back?

It is worth asking, “Would I want me as a follower?”

Help me learn… What do you look for in a good follower?  What do you think is important for someone to follow well?