Welcome to Episode 1 of the LeaderQuest Podcast. For a full recording, please visit the #NextSteps Coaching page on Youtube. This contains the full recording, plus video. Each channel gets different content and in the full content, Justin and his family try some exciting new foods!
In this episode, Justin gives an overview of his call story to help you understand him better and find your own.
In April of 2009, I became a father for the first time.
My wife, more than a week past her expected due date, was ready to burst. We tried everything that was supposed to help induce labor: drank strange teas, ate spicy foods, gobbled down pineapple, applied special lotions. You name it, we had tried it.
In intense pain and ready to not be pregnant in the warm California spring, we started walking.
Late at night, on the campus of my master’s program, we created a half mile loop from our tiny apartment to the fountain at the center of campus. Over three miles into we finally collapsed into bed. The night was warm. The air was muggy, and after a full day of school and labor-inducing hacks, we were tired.
We got ready for bed, drank some water and tried to lay down. Roughly thirty seconds after I fell asleep she woke me: “It’s time!”
We hurried to the hospital, got admitted, and eight hours later had the joy of seeing my daughter born into this world.
After the doctors were done running all of their tests, one of the nurses turned to me and asked, “Do you want to hold her?”
Call it naivete but that thought had never actually crossed my mind.
I stared at the nurse with a panicked expression on my face and said something along the lines of, “Uhhh….But she’s so little, what if I break her?”
Leadership’s “Secret Sauce”
As a first time father, I was overwhelmed at all of the things I was “supposed to know.” I’ll be honest: I didn’t know any of them.
I felt overwhelmed, under-prepared, emotionally fragile, and unsure of myself.
Thankfully, a decade and three additional kids later…..I’m still all those things (but with many more chances to doubt myself and screw it up).
Leadership, as it turns out, is often the same.
We have these grandiose ideas about our favorite leaders and how they make it look “easy.” The truth is that they have had to learn about leadership under pressure.
Great leadership happens, not because people are innately born with super-human capacity but because they committed themselves to show up, admit their inexperience, learn, try, fail, and try again.
Growing as a leader has a fairly simple (not easy) formula:
Commit to learning.
Progressively challenge yourself.
That is the secret sauce to leadership. It is about showing up, every day, in all situations, with our full selves, to be fully present in service to others.
What are you committed to learning as a leader? Chime in below!
We bought our current house two years ago knowing that it was, in every sense of the word, a “fixer-upper.” Unpruned trees, poor fencing, drafty windows, cracked tiles, and leaky faucets were the things that we could see.
There were also the cabinets that we weren’t a fan of, the flooring that was cracked and uneven, and the floral wallpaper in the bedroom that screamed 1960’s. These were things that weren’t our ideal, but wouldn’t prohibit us from inhabiting the place temporarily.
Two years into the remodel process and we have discovered something far more dangerous than any of those things: all of the issues we couldn’t see under the surface.
This last spring we both had a roof leak that flooded our den and a shower pan leak that flooded our master bathroom. The den, thankfully covered by insurance, now looks amazing. The bathroom wasn’t covered. According to them, the extent of the damage was so great that it had been going on for a long time. (Even longer than we had lived in the home). This “normal wear and tear” is not covered by insurance.
I’ve now spent the last two months renovating a bathroom down to the studs.
The Leaky Leadership Analogy
Underneath the walls, behind the paint, and hidden in the frame of the house are all sorts of potential dangers we never think about. Leaky pipes and arcing wires can ruin a home quickly.
So too in our own lives, we are often undone by the hidden areas of our lives. This “leaky leadership” is what causes leaders to stumble, quit, fail, and burnout.
No one in a position of prominence wakes up one morning and says, “I’m going to embezzle a million dollars today.” Instead, it’s a slow erosion of values and habits over time. It starts by missing a workout (because missing one can’t hurt). Then it’s going to the office early. Then staying late. Then stopping by the bar after work a few months later. Then making a poor sales decision. One day, a few months or years later, you find yourself so twisted and turned around that the only logical choice is to embezzle your way out.
Instead, it’s a slow erosion of values and habits over time.
Great leaders know the slow erosion that leads to death and decay. They counter this by staying firm in their leadership habits.
Getting enough exercise, sleep, hydration, and nutrition.
Reading every day.
Developing hobbies and outside interests.
Supportive feedback and coaching.
Developing and living in calling.
Service to others.
While each of these activities will look different from one leader to the next, it is these consistent activities that create a strong leader and lessen the change of leaky leadership.
Knowing how to combat the slow leak and constant wear of leadership pressure and cultivating these habits will lead to sustained success.
If you can’t definitively answer how you would do each of the above bullet points, reach out to me and don’t let leaky leadership ruin your great calling in this world.
“So much of the progress that would define the 20th century, on both sides of the Atlantic, came down to the battle for a slice of beach only 6 miles long and 2 miles wide.” – President Barack Obama
Today marks the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, a series of events and heroic actions that changed the course of the war in Europe, and ultimately the direction of the modern world.
For good reason, this has been one of the most chronicled stories of the modern era.
With that in mind, I want to give you three great quotes from this day in history and how these can shape and increase your influence in your world today.
1.) Major Richard Winters
“I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day when he said, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ Grandpa said ‘No… but I served in a company of heroes.'”
One of the defining characteristics of great leadership, and often the hardest to maintain, is that of humility. Staying grounded in the disciplines and morality that led to success is often difficult.
What is great about this quote from Major Winters is the clear humility in his voice. By his admission, he was not a hero, but he was lucky enough to know and serve with them.
Many of us would likely tell a different tale of his story. A hero to us, and a great leader, he reminds us of the need for humility.
2.) Winston Churchill
“And what a plan! This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever occurred.”
Leadership is difficult work. There are thrilling emotional highs and devastating lows.
It requires sacrifice, commitment, and foresight.
And it requires the group to buy into the vision that they may not be able to see. That’s a hallmark of great leadership.
Churchill, along with other military leaders, was able to accomplish that in D-Day.
The plan was difficult. Would require great commitment and even greater sacrifice. Lives, countries, ideologies, and futures were on the line.
Yet, as we see with great leadership, the vision is communicated and the heart is conveyed with it. People from the Allied forces bought in, stormed the beaches and secured a future free from Hitler’s reign of terror.
Was it easy? No.
Was it costly? Absolutely.
Did the commitment of the leadership increase the commitment of the followers? Without a doubt.
May our leadership be as bold, as influential, and as rewarding (but not as bloody!).
3.) General Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely…..I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
Leaders are often tasked with seeing a vision that others can’t. Their goal, to recruit others to pursue the dream with them.
In this particular case, the stakes were high. The fate of the world rested on the hands of general and soldiers, men and boys, who were committed to fighting for what they knew was right.
And publicly, they were committed, bold, and daring.
But what I also find highly fascinating is the letter General Eisenhower wrote: “In Case of Failure.” In part, it reads, “My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
It the great course of this war, he was willing to accept full blame for its failure. No excuses. No wavering. No lack of integrity. A man full of valor, grit, and resolve. He knew what was right, and he was committed to doing it.
He was also committed to his men and protecting them. On the battlefield and in life.
He was also committed to his own morals.
Truly outstanding leaders own every decision and every outcome. Eisenhower showed his commitment to the plan in the preparation, the action, and the follow through.
The reality of life and leadership is that a plateau isn’t a healthy or viable option. Any attempt to stay the same, hold level, or keep steady will result in a gradual downward spiral of death.
You are either progressing towards your goals or you are stepping back from them.
You are either growing or you are dying.
Because of this, as leaders, we always need to be conscious of what it is we are doing with our time, energy, and resources. Are we actively pursuing that which makes us better and gets us to the most full and complete version of ourselves, or are we withering in the summer sun? Are we leading our teams into maximum efficiency, or are we watching them twist in the wind? Do we hope to just hold on, or are we intentionally planning success?
If you take your own growth seriously (and you should) here are three questions you need to be asking yourself for continued growth.
Three Questions for Continued Growth
1.) Who do I need to be?
This question gets at both the importance of our calling and our character. It makes sure that we are on track with who God has made us to be and developing the proper skill set to accomplish our goals.
Are you taking the time each day to understand yourself, invest in your own well-being, and develop your leadership capacity?
2.) Who do I need to know?
This helps us seek out new opportunities, mentorships, coaching relationships, networking chances, and other relevant and related people.
Let’s say one of your financial goals is to be a millionaire. You’ll get there faster by hanging around people who are millionaires than you will with people who go over budget every month by busting their budget on junk food.
Are you surrounding yourself with the people that will influence you positively and get you closer to your goals?
3.) What do I need to do?
This step is about action. You may know all the right people and have the right morals to succeed, but you’ll never get there without action. Simply put: knowing the right answer, but not doing it, is just another way to watch your dreams die. You must be willing to be both a person of deep conviction and great action.
Can you lay your head down each night, knowing you did the work you needed to that day to get you closer to your goals?
Growth is essential as a leader. Day in and day out, our ability to influence others is tied directly and ultimately to our ability to understand, develop, enhance, embrace, and live out our own story.