5 Practices of Great Leaders

Practice Number 1: Lingering In The Moment

Good leaders are often thinking a mile ahead. Vision, goals, you get the idea. What we fail to do is linger and that’s what great leaders do. Lingering feels like “standing around” and, of course, great leaders don’t “stand around.” (Hint of sarcasm in case you didn’t see it.) Great leaders are people of action, right? While that is true it’s also important for us to linger in the moment. To stand a little longer in a place of beauty. Savor a moment that is especially impactful. Remaining fully present in front of a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Today, simply choose a moment to linger. Choose to be reluctant to escape back to the rigorous schedule that is so desperately calling to you. Just linger…for a moment.

Practice Number 2: Leaning In To The Day

If someone is speaking to me and I can’t quite hear what they are saying I usually lean in. I lean in to get closer, so I can clearly hear what they are saying. Each day that we face as leaders will speak to us in a unique way. Sometimes we need to lean in, even if the day is being rude to us, and hear what it’s saying. We shouldn’t go into our day reluctantly but with great anticipation of what today will bring and how God will show up in it’s midst.

Practice Number 3: Letting Go of Yesterday

There are some days when I like to keep one foot in yesterday, either to enjoy it for what it was or to kick it for how it treated me, and one foot in today. I’m not sure why I do this. Maybe to avoid something in the unknown future or enjoy something great in the past, I’m not sure which but I am learning that in order to move forward you really must pick up that foot int he past and extend into the future. What happened yesterday, good or bad, is in the past and it’s time to move on. I like what Isaiah says, "Don't think about the past. I am creating something new. There it is! Do you see it? I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands" Isaiah 43:18 NLTse. It’s hard for God to do something new if we want to live in the past.

Practice Number 4: Learning Something New

Someone once said that all leaders are learners. I believe that’s true. It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts the most. I have years of leadership experience under my belt, It runs in my DNA. Yet there are times in my life when I smugly think to myself while visiting a church, “There is no way that guy in the pulpit can teach me anything new however, I could probably help them grow by 10% this next year if they were to just change a few things.” You have probably never thought anything like that and I’m relieved because there is one word for that kind of thinking, arrogance. Like the old proverb says, “A chip on the shoulder usually indicates wood higher up.” Here’s a question to consider. “What book are you reading right now that quite possibly could be contrary to your way of thinking?” We tend to leave those books on the shelf, don’t we? Pick up something new this week, learn something fresh. My new read, “The Culinary Institute of America Book on How to Cook.” More on that in another post.

Practice Number 5: Laughing Loudly With Someone

There are times when I laugh out loud, by myself, in the car. It could be something I saw or heard. It’s a good laugh but not a great laugh. Let me explain. When I laugh alone it’s never really a deep, drawn out laugh. It’s more of an exaggerated chuckle. However, when we are with great friends, sitting around a table, I have laughed so hard that my stomach begins to ache. The kind of ache that rivals 100 sit-ups! And, the laugh is uncontrollable. We simply can’t stop. It may be 15 minutes or an hour later and I will just think about what someone else said and start laughing again. My laughter causes others to start laughing once again. Laughing loudly draws an intense connection with those around you.

Laughter with others relieves tension, it motivates and is highly contagious. Laughter actually interrupts the “fight-or-flight” response that makes our pulse quicken, our breathing grow shallow, and adrenaline rush through our body. Laughter can actually strengthen your immune system while it lowers your blood pressure! Also, research suggests that laughing represents the shortest distance between two people because it instantly interlocks limbic systems. No surprise, then, that people who enjoy each others company laugh easily and often, those who distrust or dislike each other laugh little if at all. Remember, "A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength.” Proverbs 17:22 NCV

Question: So, which one of the five practices will you start with today?
For me, I must start with Number 3: "Letting Go of Yesterday." I have a tendency to let my past define my future. It could be a success or a failure, it honestly doesn’t matter. It’s a struggle but I am getting better at leaning into today. How about you?