Last week my daughter and I attended two significant events. She went to a Taylor Swift concert, and I attended the Global Leadership Summit.
No, I don't spoil my kids with extravagant gifts. I gave my daughter the concert tickets as a combination birthday/Christmas/2014 graduation/future wedding gift. Fortunately, Ms. Swift provided a great shared memory for my daughter and a best friend that could last a lifetime; the two agreed that there will never, ever, ever be a better concert. According to several texts, Tweets, and Instagrams, they deeply appreciated the experience. I printed a few to tuck in her next birthday card as a reminder of what happened, lest memories fail. Yes, this was the gift that will keep on giving—thank you, Taylor.
Two days earlier, a few teammates and I spent Thursday and Friday at a local church that served as a satellite broadcast location for the GLS, an annual event from the Willow Creek Association. While reports from the Taylor Swift concert say that everyone sang all the words to every one of her songs, the Summit featured leadership takeaways that quieted the crowd and commanded introspection.
My memory is sketchy at times—selective, according to my wife—but I am a firm believer that writing thoughts makes them easier to retain, so I took many notes and later printed quotes captured by a few bloggers who covered the event. I'll share four (of many) ideas from the Summit that struck powerful chords with me as a leader and continue to ring in my ears.
1. Leadership requires courage in large amounts. And because Bill Hybels devoted his entire opening talk on this topic, it must be an issue for many other leaders and not just me. Whew, what a relief! Too often, leadership talks leave me feeling wildly inadequate to continue under the weight of an organization rather than motivated to make a difference. Speakers certainly don't set out with that goal, but many messages share the ideal rather than what's real. They can come just short of saying, "C'mon, it's just that easy," while leaving out the barriers and challenges.
Leadership is many things, but easy is not one.
The very welcome turn down reality road came immediately after Hybels said, "God didn't make you a leader so that you could merely reside in a position—God made you a leader to move people from 'here' to 'there.'"
He continued, "It looks so easy when I just draw this on a chart. But it is a battle. It requires courage."
"Finally," I whispered to myself, "someone admits it's not so simple. I'm gonna make it."
Hybels' continued use of Joshua 1:9, God's words to a new leader, etched that verse into my active memory: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Special emphasis belongs on the words "be strong and courageous."
2. Leaders get hurt. A lot. Hybels shared more reality: Leaders stand as lightning rods for criticism intended for their organization, them personally, or any other axe that needs grinding. Maybe that's why God included the words "do not be discouraged" in his encouragement to Joshua, along with the source of strength to combat the negative: "for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
The only wise choice: Forgive and move on. Enough said.
3. "You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you can't have both. They are mutually exclusive. So when you sign up to be brave you are signing up to get your butt kicked." Dr. BrenÉ Brown shared this truth, which complements point 1 above.