Karate MottoEarlier this week, I had breakfast with a friend who is part of an organization that is focused on helping leaders lead better. Their tag line is “inspiring courageous decisions.”  The way they do that is by helping leaders to accurately assess the current state of the business, church, or organization that they lead.  By defining reality, facing what is, they can begin to move toward what could be.  He wants to inspire leaders to make courageous decisions, and that always starts with an honest look at the current reality.

It was a very inspiring meeting; I caught his enthusiasm and passion for helping others.  He is definitely working in his “sweet spot” where his spiritual giftedness, passion, and skills intersect.

How about you?

When I meet someone who LOVES what they do, it is so obvious to me.  As Ben Zander says, “their eyes are shining.”  Are your eyes shining?  Are you working and serving in your sweet spot?  Or are you working what my friend Mark calls a J-O-B, just counting the minutes till the workday ends?

I believe leaders should be passionate about what they do and what they lead.  If they’re not, who will be?  Passion is catching, just like vision.  If we are excited about what’s going on, our team will be FAR more likely to be as well! If we’re not, we can’t expect them to be.

I want to see leaders grow and develop and learn.  I want to see them use their leadership gift to lead with all diligence (Romans 12:8).  I want to see them inspire others.  And like the friend I had breakfast with, I want to see them make courageous decisions.  That begins with knowing the current reality.

What is your current reality?  Are you leading from a place of optimistic passion?  Are you leveraging your leadership gift for the benefit of others?  That’s the way to find real fulfillment and growth as a leader.

How can you get there if you’re not already?  And how can you stay there if you are?  Here are 3 suggestions.

1) Learn from other leaders who are passionate about what they’re leading.  I make it a habit to regularly get around other leaders who are farther down the road than I am and learn from them.  Sometimes that’s in a one-on-one or small group setting, and sometimes it’s at a conference where leadership is being taught and discussed.  This year Southview is hosting two leadership development conferences – the Leadercast in May and the Global Leadership Summit in August (you can register to attend using those links).  If you’re not being intentional about your own personal leadership development, who will be?  Make the investment of time and resources to get better as a leader.

2) Find a hobby or interest (other than your main job) that inspires passion in you.  I love to teach, and for the last five years I’ve taught online courses in Old and New Testament Survey for Itawamba Community College.  This year, I’m teaching an “in person” class once a week for Washington University of Virginia.  I love to teach and help people unpack the historical, linguistic, archaeological, and societal context of the Bible so that they can better understand and apply it to their lives, and in teaching college classes, I get to use a gift outside my normal traffic pattern of life and use that gift to help others.  I find the discussion and insights of a classroom invigorating, and it generates a higher level of passion in me that I then bring back to my work in the local church.

3) Be careful who you allow to speak into your life.  We all know there are people who speak life into us, and they are people who do not – I’ve heard the latter called very draining people (VDPs). You choose who you will allow to speak into your life.  You determine, in most cases, who you will spend the majority of your time with.  The people around you can have a huge impact on your passion level and optimism.  Choose wisely who you will allow inside, whose words you will internalize and truly listen to.

What other suggestions would you add to help leaders get and stay passionate and optimistic about what they lead?

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