Kickstarter Project Nearly Done

book-headerSo at the beginning of the year I took the plunge and created a Kickstarter project with the aim of helping get my book published. There are just a few days left, so this is my final opportunity to say thank you to all those who have supported me and ask for others to possibly do the same.

Check out the video and hear about the heart behind the book and why I am so excited about it. You can support me for £10 (or more if you choose) and as a reward I’ll send you a proper copy of the book, rather than a download, if you prefer.

The challenge with a Kickstarter project is it’s all or nothing so I am hopeful that in the next 3 days I will hit the target and then the next step of making this book a reality can take place.  Check out all the updates too which let you know a little bit more of what the book is all about.

Today’s Leadership Reminders

Reading feedback today from our first Growth Track session last night and I am reminded of some important leadership principles…

Be willing to listen to other peoples opinions. It can make for uncomfortable reading but by involving others you have the potential to take something which is good and make it so much better. This is why I love that we are doing a ‘pilot run’ of the Growth Track, for such a reason and some of the comments are great.

Be willing to admit when it wasn’t quite right. All the planning in the world doesn’t make up for actually going through something with a bunch of people. The feedback just reminded me of things I had meant to say, they were in my notes but I just forgot.

Be willing to work hard at making necessary changes. Some of these are on me to do and then getting others to help with the rest. It’s no good listening to comments to just ignore them. Leaders execute stuff, they get stuff done and work hard to make things better.

Team is always best. This for me is an example of Team Xcel at it’s very best, collaborating on what we all agree will be a great success and help many people in their journey with God. Team can also help in making the suggestions happen too.

It’s all about helping people move on one step with God. It’s why I am excited about the Growth Track and what it can mean for people and their connection with God, with others, with their purpose and with the church family.

What have your leadership reminders been today?

What’s Next?

Tonight we will have had our final session with this years participants on the Xcel Future Leaders course. I absolutely love stuff like this. For over 16 years now I have been involved in some form of leadership development.

I began my leadership journey when I was 19, a similar age to many of those who have been a part of this course. When I reflect on what I was like back then, I am thankful for the investment of one couple who poured their life into me and helped me understand more about what it means to be a leader. Just as well really, because when you are 19 you feel pretty invincible and don’t consider that you need to learn anything.

But here I am, just over 25 years later. The book about what I would tell my 19 year old self is being written and maybe this thought should go in it. After everything you have learned, and are continuing to learn, a question definitely comes to mind…

What’s next?

So you’ve finished a leadership development programme. What’s next? One thing is for sure, completing a course doesn’t make you a leader. It’s hoped that it has helped you and once you have reflected on those things, the question comes again, what’s next?

How will you continue to grow? Where do you need to focus your attention? What is the next challenge for you and who can help you with it?

Here’s another secret…that question never goes away. Whether you have been a leader for 1 year or 25+ years the question of what’s next, and all that is encapsulated within that simple question never disappears. It may just be that the complexity of the answer grows, which, ironically, is the reason for asking the question over and over again.

What’s next? Can you answer that in regard to your leadership?

Passion for What?

Your internal passion determines your external reach. Your heart will shape the actions of your hands [Brad Lomenick]

That’s an incredibly powerful statement. What truly is the passion of my heart? Whatever holds it will drive me, will cause me to reach for certain things. 

If my passion were for fame & fortune then that’s what I will inevitably put my energy towards, the energy of my external reach, the energy of the work of my hands. If it’s for the things of God then that’s where my energy must go. 

I am passionate about building local church. I am passionate about helping grow people who are passionate about building local church. I’m not great at it but believing that with Gods hand in there too I may as well give it my best shot. 

What are you reaching for? Whatever it is, that’s probably your passion. 

5 Growth Questions

Over the last couple weeks I have had the privilege of asking 5 simple questions to a bunch of young leaders. Thought I would share them with you.

Leadership is about more than the task you have been given responsibility for. It’s about who you are becoming, the person you are while you are doing what you do.

We are leaders. More than that, we are spiritual leaders so the questions reflect this…

What have you been learning?
What is challenging you at the moment/where is the stretch?
Where do you still need to improve?
What is God saying to you?
Who do you have in your world who will pray with you?

Leadership is a balance of getting things done and knowing what it is that God wants you to do. Sometimes we focus too much on the former and not enough on the latter. When that happens we are in danger of getting out of focus, which can become leading for the sake of doing and that can be overwhelming.

Read back on my previous posts and you will discover that as much as I talk about the good characteristics of a leader I advocate more the growth of spiritual leadership.

Hope that helps. What questions do you ask of yourself to help you reflect on your leadership?

Leadership Growing Pains

In 25 years of leadership I have hit my head a few times, both literally and metaphorically speaking.

Literally as a youth leader, when games have gone wrong, plus there was the one time I could include when I got head-butted for Jesus. These occasions hurt, especially the pride, and they often left their mark too.

It’s the hitting my head in a leadership sense that has been more of a challenge to deal with.

When I look back on my leadership journey I can see a number of pivotal moments when my head hit the ceiling, so to speak. The ceiling which represents both my leadership capability and my leadership capacity. Every time I hit my head I had a decision to make. Do I sit down, feel the pain, get fed up with it and quit being a leader OR do I work out what I need to do, what I need to learn, what can help raise the ceiling and create greater leadership capability within me and increase my capacity?

In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell calls it the ‘Law of the Lid’. We all have one but the best thing is we can lift that lid.

I have clear recollections as a leader of not knowing what to do, of wondering how to work something out, thinking I will never be able to carry that increased level of responsibility, or know how to handle certain circumstances. Yet here I am, on the other side of what I would simply call, my leadership growing pains.

It’s an interesting dynamic that all leaders have to negotiate. I want to grow as a leader but I don’t like the discomfort it can cause. I want to be challenged yet I don’t always enjoy what that challenge might bring my way.

However, hitting my head as a leader became my new norm. I accepted that it would be a continuos part of my journey as I had a desire to grow as a leader. I made the choice that even if it was difficult to deal with the growth, that even if the stretch was tough, I would not quit.

Instead I learned to become aware of when I may hit my head. I started looking ahead. I kept on reading, learning, watching other leaders, listening to the right kind of wisdom. I began to work on raising the ceiling on my leadership in preparation for what may be ahead.

Many young leaders have come and gone since I began. Amongst the different reasons for not walking with God or staying on the leadership journey, this unwillingness to do what it takes to grow well is possibly in the top 3. We hit our head, we don’t like it, we see that effort is needed to breakthrough and we just don’t bother.

We need more Christian leaders who can stand the test of time. Who will stand for God. Who will not only ‘do’ the job of a leader but also learn what it means to live the life of a leader. Who will acknowledge that it’s not easy but worth it. Who can keep themselves healthy, teachable, protect their character and integrity, as well as keep a walk with God as the most important aspect of their life.

5 quick things [not in any order of importance] that I do to make sure I’m always raising the lid on my leadership…

1. Carpet Time. There is absolutely no substitute for time spent with God. Pray like your leadership life depends on it.

2. Reading. I always have books on the go and not just leadership ones.

3. Learn the Word of God. I need to hear Gods voice. I get a bit antsy when I’m not sure what God is saying. His Word is the best way for me to hear him so I read it every day.

4. Space to think. Not necessarily a week away. The other day I took 20 minutes to walk around the block by the office. It’s enough as a change of scenery, to talk to God, and clear my head.

5. Ask questions. Of yourself, of other leaders, of the tasks and projects you have. What am I trying to achieve? Where can I learn about this? Who could help me?

Bonus thought: It’s not all on you. Involve others in your world and get them to help you carry all that you are carrying. Glean from their wisdom. When I think I am the only person who can do a certain something, that’s when I’m heading for the low ceiling and about to get a bruise.

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What would you add from your own experience of ensuring that you are always in growth mode so that your head never hits that leadership ceiling?

Leadership Means Challenge

Looking back at those early days of leadership, it was all about being challenged. To step into the unknown. To give it a go. I was scared, nervous, unsure and I have learned along the way that that’s alright.

For the first time ever I had to lead a group of young people.
For the first time ever I had to come up with some sort of programme, ideas, creative thinking, something that would keep their interest and that they would enjoy.
For the first time ever I had to turn up and produce. It was on me.
For the first time ever I had to listen to others critique what I produced. I had to learn to take it on the chin, accept hard comments, be ready to listen and make any necessary changes.
For the first time ever I had to teach about Jesus, pray with young people, actually think about how to put  Christian truths across to a bunch of them.

I loved it. I was hooked. My leadership journey had begun. Those first few months have now been repeated many times in a number of different leadership roles.

Leadership means challenge.

Without challenge we don’t grow.
Without challenge we don’t learn.
Without challenge we don’t discover what we can and cannot do.
Without challenge we don’t make mistakes and mistakes are when we probably learn the most.
Without challenge we don’t progress.
Without challenge we don’t stay sharp. We may just settle, get bored, become mediocre.
Without challenge we don’t fulfil our potential. Or at least we aren’t being pushed to reach for it.

To be a leader, get ready to embrace the challenges. It may be uncomfortable because of the stretch, but it’s okay, just stick in, keep stretching, keep stepping up and you can become the leader that you have the ability and desire to become.

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What challenge has grown you the most as a leader?

Check out It’s About People [19.2]

What I’ve Been Reading Recently…

Wanted to share some resources that will encourage and challenge you on your leadership journey…

Eric Speir talking about ‘What Makes an Above Average Leader’

Will Mancini talking about ‘Obstacles to Vision’

Brad Lomenick encouraging us about the ‘Need for a Confidant’

John Maxwell has a great article about the ‘Qualities of a Good Guide’

Michael Hyatt with an article about becoming a ‘Productive Leader’

10 quotes about ‘Leaving a Legacy’

Plus check out the 2 articles from Pastor Johns ‘Lessons from Life’ – part 1 and part 2

What do you think about these articles? What are you reading at the moment to help you grow? Share any thoughts so that we can all continue to develop in our leadership.