Rhythms of Self-Care

 

What got you here won’t get you there!

It’s a leadership principle I’ve thought a lot about over the years, but never saw how apropos it was for the rhythms of self-care. That is, until two months ago.

I was giving a presentation to a group of high caliber ministry leaders on what I’ve learned about the rhythms of life and work that my soul needs in order to thrive. As we dove into some Q&A, one of them made this comment: “As I sit here listening, it dawns on me that I am practicing the things that served me well in the past. But, as my role has changed and grown, those rhythms are simply not robust enough to sustain me in the present.”

That’s when the a-ha hit me:

When your role changes, your responsibilities grow, and the demands on you increase,
you need to adjust your rhythms of self-care if you are going to thrive. 

There is no one size fits all and there is no way for someone else to simplistically prescribe  a plan for you. You can probably easily identify what’s not working, but you’ll need to explore and experiment until you find what fits you.

Here are some areas to consider and literally toy with until you land on what serves you.

 

Managing Your Workflow?
… when are you at your best for the different types of work you need to do?
… when do you block time for creative and deep thought shaped work?
… when are you unavailable?
… what would an ideal day or ideal week look like for you and what are you doing to create as much of that as possible?

Thinking Time?
… I read a comment by Buffett saying he spends 80% of his time thinking. What you do in public is shaped by what is addressed and conceived in private. So, where is thinking time blocked into your schedule?

Exercise?
… internal well-being and physical well-being are inseparable. So, what are you doing these days? Is it enough?

Altitude/ Long-Range Perspective?
… What are your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual practices that help you look beyond the horizon for perspective and fresh priorities?
… When do you work on long range goals and dreams?
… How clear are you on your calling or unique contribution and how have you linked your calendar to that calling?

Spiritual Disciplines?
… what are your best practices for entering into and lingering in the presence of Christ?
… what disciplines do you practice that take you beyond the simple notions of quick daily devotional?
… Where is there space in your life for regular reflection, listening prayer, journaling, etc.

 

My personal game plan

You’re not me, so I make no assumption that what I need mirrors what you need. But, for the sake of an example, here are a few of the things that I am learning to practice. I devote my mornings until noon for my big four: Reading, Writing, Exercise, and the deep-thought-required tasks that are usually Quadrant II stuff. In fact, these days, I start my mornings earlier than ever so that before diving into anything else, I have unhurried time reflection and communion with Christ. On a weekly basis, I don’t do any appointments on Monday’s—I actually call it Monk mode—and use the day to gain perspective, do some writing, and get ahead on the creative deep thought related projects on my plate. If you’d like to see more, on my broader rhythms, CLICK HERE.

But, the real question is what do you need?

Do a little evaluation. Begin to experiment. Toy with doing things a different way. And, keep at it until you find the practices, rhythms, and self-management disciplines that will empower you to thrive, for the long haul?

 

 

 

 

For More, See these Related Posts:
Perspective
My “Pirates Code”
Elasticity and Time fore Reflection

Perspective Doesn’t Come Easy

binocs

Leadership demands perspective.

That ability to see above the fray in order to navigate the present in light of the future. Perspective differentiates leaders from followers and leaders from better leaders. But, here’s the deal. You have to fight for perspective. It doesn’t present itself gift-wrapped. It’s fragile. Elusive. In fact, the relentless gravity of the urgent and the immediate cannibalizes perspective.

For twenty years, I have been training leaders on ways to find, sustain, and lead with perspective. Lately, I have been thinking more about what it takes to win that fight.

By lately, I specifically mean the past two months–the beginning of a long-awaited sabbatical. One of my early “projects” has been to reflect on the things that tend to eat my leadership lunch. Among my observations, a big one is that I have taken my ability to maintain perspective for granted. I allowed the demands of a growing organization to seduce me into thinking that perspective from the past will carry me into the future. New habits overtook former ones and as a result, these past couple years I have been repeatedly sucked into the swamp of operational weeds where perspective is almost impossible.

One of my sabbatical goals is to reinstate and refine the game-changing disciplines that help me live and lead at a higher altitude (my favorite analogy for perspective.)

These disciplines are not rocket science, in fact, it might be best to call them simple practices. The key is in the practice of them, not talking about them. They are much too obvious for extended rhetoric.

You might need things I don’t, but for the sake of a concrete starting point, here is what I have found I need and what seems to be a good framework for most leaders.

1. READ: Read constantly in the area of your normal disciplines AND read broadly on subjects outside of your normal orbit. To say it another way, read things that have no urgent need or useful value. (Consider: Warren Buffet and other uber-successful people talk about spending 80% of their time reading and thinking. For more: click this link.)

2. REFLECT: Use some kind of journal to record what you did and what you learned in the midst of it. Most significant learning happens while we do stuff. Severe your technological tentacles for a while to think, dream, and process what lies behind and ahead of you. (Example: I not only journal regularly, but every week I review the week that just transpired and use what I see to inform the way I will approach the upcoming week or two. I do the same in a more robust way when I do monthly goal setting and calendar work.)

3. RE-CREATE: All of us have things that are life-giving in a re-creative way. For me, it’s a simple two-pronged focus for me: I have to give attention to my soul and to my body. That means time in prayer /communion with God and time in some sweat-producing exercise. (In addition to these core two, I also need time with highly stimulating people and time spent in artistic endeavors.) The thing is, most re-creative endeavors have a non-productive feel to them. Don’t be fooled.

As for me, I know that I need to spend some time in all three areas every day and a lot of time in them every week.

What have you found works for you? Add to the conversation by adding your comments below.

For more thought about sabbaticals, click here.

 

Elasticity and Time for Reflection

Let me start with a confession. I love shooting rubber bands at people. I’m sure it started in elementary school when real weapons were off limits, but the truth is I still love that mischievous sensation of pulling a strand of rubber across my pistol-shaped hand and firing away.



And no, this post isn’t really about shooting rubber bands. It is about the connection between elasticity and what is required for leaders to have time and space for reflection.

Leaders get things done. They don’t merely mobilize others to accomplish great things, they know how to work hard and are willing to keep their head down to do whatever it takes. The only problem is, keep your nose to the grindstone too long, you get blood in your eyes.

The ability to lead with sustained creativity and clarity requires time and space for reflection. Get embroiled in micro-management, problem-solving, or personnel issues for too long and you’ll lose the perspective that is only possible with regular reflection.

That’s where elasticity comes in. Meaningful reflection requires two things: elastic time and elastic space.

ELASTIC TIME

Unconstrained, open-ended, or at least long enough to exhaust it’s potential. Elastic time gives you the freedom to read, write, create, or ponder without the pressure that you have to pack up and move on to other urgent stuff in a few minutes. It means you have the chance to explore rabbit trails, whether they numberswiki.com

yield anything productive or not. It can stretch and expand or contract as needed.

ELASTIC SPACE

Reflection by it’s nature is creative explorative stuff. It happens best in space that invites expansive thought and behavior. It happens better in overstuffed chairs and fireplaces living rooms than in cubicles. Reflection is nurtured when you have the ability to spread out, to have two different books open at the same time, or to draw and sketch out your ideas. In essence it is space that allows you to multi-task without constraints.

Here’s no surprise. Making time for reflection will never seem urgent. There will always be tasks and people demanding urgent attention, while reflection feels like a luxury. She waits patiently at the side of your day offering to infuse you with fresh ideas that will take you beyond the mundane demands of your normal rhythms. She breathes life and innovation and perspective into your day to day demands. Until you say yes, you will never know what could have been.

And, try to lead for long without the life-giving infusion of reflective thought and your rubber band will dry out — only to snap on you next time you aim at someone or something else.

So, let’s ask the obvious.

1. When is the last time you had elastic time and space for reflection?
2. Where and when could you rectify that situation?
3. How much longer can you survive with your nose at the grindstone?

Your Thoughts?  Experience?

Lord, Teach Me to Number My Days

Yesterday, we had a normal text conversation with a really close friend of ours about the custody hearing of his daughter regarding her child. Then at 7:14 this morning my phone rang and I learned that this same friend and daughter were shot and killed by her ex-husband last evening.

Emotionally I’ve spent the day vacillating between shock, sorrow, anger, and indignation. This was a good friend and truly a fine caring man. He was a loving generous grandfather who gave himself in sacrificial ways to his family. He and his wife had hopes and dreams about their retirement years. There are many things I could say about Russ, but since you don’t know him I need to write about the personal reflections I cannot escape.

In the words of David, the great song writer, “Lord, teach us to number our days.” (Ps 90:12)  In my own words, “Lord, help me put today in perspective, by attending to the fact that each day is a sacred gift, a limited commodity. Help me live aware of the fact that I will never know how many days I have ahead of me.”

The truth is, in my entire life, all I ever have at my disposal is one day: today! Yesterday is a memory I can celebrate, treasure, learn from, etc. Tomorrow is a day I can plan for. But, the only day within my grasp, the only day where my purpose and priorities and values can be actively lived out, is today. In a tangible way, the real number of our days is ONE.

“Lord, teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” Wisdom, not drivenness. Drivenness would be the American way–run faster, do more, strive harder, live in a panic. On the contrary, embracing the reality that only one day lies within our grasp should lead us to depth, direction, and the de-cluttering of our lives.

I think this is one of the core messages of my life: the power of one day. When I live in the light of one day, it keeps me sensitive to the sacred nature of my own life and the people who populate it. It focuses my attention on the direction of my life and how I might lived connected to the Kingdom. It keeps me passionate about living in intimacy with Jesus as I seek to follow him. Today is the day when I get to live out my convictions, give my life away serving the potential of others, participate in the redemptive work of the Gospel. Today–every day–is pregnant and holy and fragile.

In all my life, I only have one day at my disposal. So, Lord, as I lean into the sorrow and loss of my friend, show me more about how I might live into the sacred trust of life called “today.”

———————-

p.s. I have touched on this theme of life as fragile and sacred before. Here are a links to some of those posts:

Life is Sacred:

http://aboutleading.com/2009/03/13/life-is-fragileand-sacred/

– Grieving and the Health of my Soul:

http://aboutleading.com/2009/10/07/grieving-and-the-health-of-my-soul/

– Life is Long and Fragile:

http://aboutleading.com/2008/03/20/life-is-longand-fragile/

Law of the Pencil and Stone

I want to talk about having goals and plans. I think they really matter. I am not compulsive about them and don’t let them rule my life, but for me they are essential to living an intentional life. I hold life as a gift to be stewarded, an entrustment to be handled with care.  Setting goals for my personal development and for the things I believe God wants me to work on is one key to intentional focus.

However, there are some complicating factors. How do you balance having goals with being sensitive to the ongoing leading and direction of the Spirit? How do you align yourself with goals and pursue them intentionally without becoming driven?  How do you live in that dynamic tension that calls for daily dependence on God and his direction at yet at the same time align your behavior, decisions, and priorities to what you believe you are supposed to be working on?

In other words, how does a leader live by and provide focused direction while simultaneously remaining responsive to the dynamic leadership of Christ?

I would like to suggest a principle that I believe serves individual leaders, families, churches, and ministry organizations of any size. I call it, the “law of the pencil and the stone.

It works like this.  Knowing that circumstances are always changing, at any given moment all I have to go on is my best understanding to date. I never know every detail or nuance that is important. At any moment God may break in to to redirect, clarify, or interrupt what I understood I should be doing. Therefore, I imagine my goals and plans are written on that elementary-school paper with the really wide lines by one of those finger-thick pencils. They aren’t fancy or polished, just my best understanding to date, and therefore I hold them with a loose grip. Anytime God has a new assignment, I am ready to relinquish those goals for another sheet of penciled writing on elementary school paper.

At the same time, because they are indeed my best understanding of God’s priorities, plans, and direction for my life I need to live in obedience to those goals as if they were written by the finger of God on tablets of stone. Yes, they might change, but until they do they are the best I know. In fact, during my entire life all I will ever have is my best understanding to date. I need to align my life to that understanding and live in obedience to it.

That’s it: holding onto your goals as if they are written in pencil while living them out as if they were written by God on a tablet of stone unlocks the potential for responsive but focused obedience.

It’s Not hard to understand, however I need to address what might be the issue beneath the issue. A great many people and organizations resist setting goals. Something in us likes keeping our options open. We dislike the feeling of having limits. We like the freedom of going with the flow and dislike being accountable to stay on task. And we are really good at masking this personal resistance in some lofty language. In the Christian community, we talk about being Spirit-led — as if the Spirit can only lead in the spontaneity of the moment.

One final thought: When it comes to a group of people, be it a family, a ministry team, or a church, clear agreed upon goals and plans are the way a group of people lives in obedience as a community. The law of the pencil and the stone is a powerful posture for a group that longs to follow Christ together.

So, I have to ask, how has God been directing you?  Isn’t it time to take those good intentions and put them into action?

— Gary

P.S.  By the way, in a changing world and changing marketplace, the law of the pencil and the stone has great value as a corporate posture as well.

A Leader’s Prayer

I have often quoted the axiom, “a difference between a leader and a follower is PERSPECTIVE. And, a difference between good leaders and better leaders is better perspective.”

There are things we can do to provide perspective, ways we can gain the leadership equivalent of altitude, but perspective is more than a strategic issue. The greatest perspective is actually spiritual, and as such, it calls for the work of the Spirit.

After all, James promised that if anyone lacks wisdom he/she should ask of God who gives generously.

Therefore, in that Spirit, I wrote a Prayer for a Leader. I literally printed off a copy and clipped it into my day planner so that I would be reminded to pray these thoughts every day until it becomes second nature.

————————————————-

A Leader’s Prayer


Lord, help me

see beyond…


Help me see beyond…

… my experience

… my training and knowledge

… my wisdom and insight

… my intuition

… and beyond myself.


Help me see beyond…

… the surface

… the obvious

… the urgent

… easy options, familiar approaches

and obvious personnel

to see beyond what is, in order to see what could be.


In every situation, help me see beyond the…

… human

… organizational

… and strategic factors

to see the real spiritual issues and dynamics in play.



And, while helping me see beyond…

grant me the ability to see, understand, and embrace

present reality

with unwavering courage.

Our Little Black Book

I am big on the significance of milestones in life and the opportunity they give for perspective and re-alignment. Last week was one of those milestones. It was not only the first week of a new decade, it was our 32nd wedding anniversary.

Margaret and I went away for a few days to celebrate, relax, and to take a look at where we are at, how we are doing. We actually have a ritual that we follow each year on our anniversary. Since it is so close to the beginning of a new year, Margaret and I take a morning and do a “state of the union” review on our life and marriage.

It’s rather simple. We have this really cheap blank book and in it we capture our perspective on four or five basic categories. Some years we do a bit more, but we always include:

  1. Where are we now?(a brief summary of current reality for each of us and our kids.)
  2. Looking Back: the major events, themes, and developments of the past year.
  3. Looking Ahead: our dreams, priorities and big plans for our life together in the year ahead.
  4. Growth, change, or goals the Lord is prompting us toward during the next year.

    We’ve been around the block enough times now to know that “drift” happens. All that stuff of life creeps up and new patterns develop in your marriage as you react to them: busy travel seasons, challenges at work, illness, financial set-backs, etc. Without some mechanism for getting altitude and re-calibrating life, subtle drifts become dangerous currents.

    Now, Margaret and I weren’t this intentional when we first started, it just seemed like a good idea to do some annual reflection at the beginning of the year. But, over the years we discovered that this tradition is really a sacred time to talk to each other about how we are doing and about the re-alignment that needs to take place as we go forward.

    We started this tradition on January 1st, 1978, six days before our wedding. We were dirt poor, so we rented a table at McDonalds and for a few hours made two pages of notes about the previous year and what we saw ahead for our first year of marriage. Over the years there were a few times when somehow we didn’t get our thoughts written into the book, but even with a couple gaps, we realize now that we have also documented the map of our journey through life together.

    our anniversary book

    That little blank book is pretty ratty these days. We will fill it up in a couple years, if it holds out that long. When it dies or gets filled up, we’ll start volume II. On January 7th thirty-two years from now you will find Margaret and I sitting someplace simple with that second volume asking the same questions and making intentional plans for the year before us.


    A Pirates Code for Greater Focus

    I just finished one of my favorite weeks all year: my personal prayer and planning retreat. It’s not vacation per se, although it is radically refreshing. It is a focused week where my primary agenda is to meet with the Lord and invite him to speak to me about the patterns, priorities, and plans of my life.

    Over the years, I have done a variety of things during this retreat, but a couple fundamental components are non-negotiable. One is that I will read through my journal of the past year in one sitting looking for lessons, patterns, and the longings of my soul. Another is that as I pray over the year ahead, I will identify the primary goals and plans I need to achieve.

    This year, I had a breakthrough I hadn’t sought. I recognized the linkage between annual, monthly, and weekly rhythms that are key to maintaining perspective and focus as a leader. Being a “P” and not a “J,” I think I’ll call it “the Pirates’ Code for Greater Leadership Focus.” If I wanted more grandiose phrasing, I might call it, “Keys to Strategic Life Management for a Leader.”

    Borrowing from David Allen (GTD fame,) as well as my good friends Tim Cahill and Steve Hudson, I propose the following pattern and practices of self-leadership. Each offers perspective from a different altitude. Each component makes a specific contribution to the ability of a leader to chart their way forward. The point is that a leader needs all four.

    50,000 ft  ::  CALLING

    Calling is best captured as a guiding document that describes your best understanding to date of your biblical purpose, unique values, and vision for the impact you believe God wants you to make. There are a handful of tools and approaches that can help you with this.

    WHEN COMPLETED: as soon as possible, if not done already. It is something to be reviewed annually.

    TIME HORIZON: the foreseeable future

    25,000 ft  ::  COMPASS

    Your compass is an annual strategic plan that articulate goals and/or key objectives for each of your core life and work/ministry roles.

    WHEN COMPLETED: annually during personal planning retreat of some kind.

    TIME HORIZON: 12-18 months. (Often a major goal can’t be completed within a 12 month time frame. So, think beyond if needed.)

    15,000 ft  ::  CALENDAR

    Your Calendar is a game plan for the coming month. The point is that every 30 days we need to assess progress and re-align our lives with our compass. The core practice is time-blocking: blocking time to work on the next best action steps essential for progress on your goals and plans.

    WHEN COMPLETED: every month during a personal planning day.

    [People have variously called this kind of day a personal retreat day; a personal summit; a personal planning day; a day with God; or my own favorite, a “Day on the Mountain.” (Perspective requires altitude, getting above the fray, and mountains are a metaphor for that.)]

    TIME HORIZON: the next 60-90 days. (it is not uncommon to find the next 30 days fairly booked. Therefore it often helps to look further out and block time accordingly.)

    5,000 ft  ::  CLOCK

    The Clock refers to specific plans and action steps for this week. It was Drucker who said, you cannot manage time, you spend it. However, you can manage appointments. One hidden gem: on a week by week basis it is essential to allow buffer time and flex time. If you over-program your schedule, you cannot respond to the unexpected.

    WHEN COMPLETED: Typically early in the week. Monday morning, even Sunday night for some. The point is take 30-60 minutes to review and refine the detailed activities and plans of your week.

    TIME HORIZON: one to two weeks. (Priority is the current seven days, but sometimes you see needed adjustment another week out.)

    It’s a Pirates Code, guidelines not a new legalism. So give yourself room to be human. But don’t dodge the obvious question: at which altitude are you really clear and at which are you a bit fuzzy these days?

    Calling & Courage

    How big is the wake behind your “boat?” Do you cut through the waters of life without leaving a mark, or do the waves of your wake reverberate in people long after you are gone? The 5 “C’s” of Leadership Capacity are qualities that translate into the breadth and depth of a leader’s influence: aka. the wake behind “your boat.”

    Ignored, any of the five will neutralize your wake, minimizing the mark you make on the world around you. I have already written on the first two qualities — Character and Competency — now it is time look at the heavy lifting that comes through Calling and Courage. (This is the 3rd in a 4 part series of essays.)

    CALLING:: Lack of Calling
    For the past twelve years I have worked with men and women to help them sharpen and then live in alignment with a clear sense of calling. Calling is my way of talking about the deep seated desire in all of us to make a redemptive difference in the world. It describes our passion for meeting needs — for participating creatively in shaping the world we long for.  Calling is not a synonym for our vocational assignment, but our vocation should provide practical ways we are empowered to live out our calling.

    Let me frame it through the words of Os Guinness. Every one of us is surrounded by people with agendas and expections for us. Every day, every leader stands before a crowd of faces that long to be pleased. They form a seductive presence that makes it easy to live for the applause of the crowd rather than before the “Audience of One.” Becoming clear about your calling, makes it easier to live before the one whose opinion matters. Calling gives me a grid for sorting through the options I run into every day.

    What are you called to do with your life?
    Some questions that might help you probe your sense of calling:

    • What group of people or obvious needs do you long to touch?
    • What are you doing when you feel that your life is making a difference?
    • What are you really good at?
    • What are some ways you would love to redeem parts of the broken world around you?
    • What could you build, shape, create that would improve life for others?
    • What is one tangible action you could take this week that would align with your best understanding of your ‘calling’
 ?

    COURAGE ::
    Nothing sabotages the impact of a leader like the lack of courage. Courage means choosing to do the hard good when the easy evil is right at hand. Courage is about staying the course when things are rough. Courage means placing your personal comfort below the needs of others and needs of the moment. Courage touches everything a leader does.

    Think about courage in relationship to calling. We can be frightfully clear about our calling, but without courage we will fail to say ‘no’ to the requests of persuasive people. Without courage we will avoid the hard work of change — failing to align our behavior with our calling. It takes courage to say yes less often and no more often. Living out your calling, means disappointing people who “really needed us,” in order to do the things we were made to do.

    Or what about conflict? It is impossible to lead without conflict. You will cause it or it will find you, but either way, when leaders lead, stuff happens. Courage is the well leaders drink from when they must wade into issues of conflict. And, maybe one of the most important transactions during conflict, other “leaders in fringe” will gauge your leadership horsepower by watching the way you respond to conflict. If you avoid it, others will know that there is a lack of leadership in your organization. Worse, they will know that when conflict arises involving them, there will be no one watching their back. Over time emerging leaders will drift away… leaders need leaders to follow.

    Courage is not arrogance, however. It does not treat people or decisions callously. Courage brings perspective rather than arrogant insensitivity. Arrogance is actually insecurity in action. Courage usually flows from deep understanding that what is at stake is far bigger than me and how you feel about me. Courage shows up in a willingness to act, to stay the course, even when doing so requires a high price.

    So, how is the courage quotient in your life these days?

    • Are you saying No when you should or saying yes because it is easier?
    • Are you dealing with conflict or hoping it goes away?
    • Do the people you serve see an example of what it looks like to have enough courage to take big risks on behalf of those people and needs that will not serve you in return?

    PERSONAL NOTE: My apologies for the delay in this installment of this essays. I will post the final piece on Community in just a few days.

    Character & Competency

    A few days ago I posted the first in a series of essays on what I have found to be five attributes of a high-capacity leader. These attributes seem to function in two ways that matter to everyone of us. On the one hand they are like horses harnessed together to pull a load. And at the same time, individually they have the capacity to sabotage what could be accomplished by the others. This is the second of four essays on this theme.

    CHARACTER
    There is a good shift taking place. While it seems that the majority of training and leadership expectations focus on one’s competencies, there is a lot of emphasis these days on the character that lives deeper than competencies. To that extent we are on the right track. As I and many of my colleagues believe, influence flows out of who you are not what you can do. Character is not the only thing that matters, but without it nothing else matters much.

    However, in the popular conversations, it seems we often speak of leaders ‘having character’ as if that means they possess a strength of will to sustain them through the challenges they face. Or, we use character as a synonym for integrity.  To be sure these qualities flow from a leader’s character. However, I mean to imply something more.

    The character of a leader is the personalized imprint of God on the inner life. It is not merely the imposition of a predetermined list, (i.e. the Boy Scout Law: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,etc.) I think of character as the comprehensive and unique landscape of one’s soul — the integrated package of convictions forged by experience and the internal formation carried out by the Spirit of God which shape our behavior.

    Character makes an imprint on everything we do, every relationship we maintain, and every facet of our behavior. It is more than who I am when no one is looking. It is also who I am when everyone is looking.

    It is a matter of soul and spirit. Spiritually, it is reflected in 2 Chr. 16:9
    “The eyes of the Lord search to and fro throughout the earth, that he might fully support the man whose heart is completely his.”


    COMPETENCY
    At the same time, leaders need to have skills–significant skills! In a changing world, leaders must continually develop and sharpen their abilities in order to lead with effectiveness. Good intentions are no match for competent leadership.
    Don’t misunderstand my comments on character to mean that skills don’t matter.  We live in a demanding world. In fact, most leaders find they are expected to be competent in a wide range of arenas they were never trained in.

    Influence flows out of character, but high capacity leaders are also highly competent. They don’t flaunt their expertise, but they are constantly working to develop their skill-set. Character-deep leaders understand the relationship between character and competency. While character may be the key to influence, they have also learned to rely on their competencies much like a master-mechanic relies on tools. When the tasks demand it, they pull out different tools, use them with wisdom, and then put them back into the tool chest for another day.

    In a world characterized by quantum and continuous change, we will always need new skills. We can benefit from skills that minimize personal deficits, but more importantly, we need to hone those skills that build on personal strengths.
    Biblical parallels:
    Ps 78:72:  “David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hand he led them.”
    1 Tim 4:11-15:  “…do not neglect your gift…be diligent… so that everyone may see your progress.”