Outside Myself   Leave a comment


individual -v- group

individual -v- group (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

One of the pitfalls that many leaders (and individuals in general) face is trying to deal with things on their own.  When faced with a challenge, the person tries to create a solution or plan alone.  When trying to communicate in a challenging situation, the person composes a response alone.  I am becoming more and more convinced that alone is seldom, if ever, a good approach.  I know that I am frequently in great need of at least one other person to talk things over with as I try to develop a course of action.

Recently I can recall a couple different examples of this truth.  I have had situations in my leadership roles where I was faced with a challenge.  While I wanted to do what was best for the organization and the individuals involved, I was struggling with identifying the correct response.  Each scenario that I foresaw in my mind did not seem to lead to a win-win situation.  While, I know that you are not always going to be able to achieve a win-win, I always put that forth as a goal for myself.  The main reason that I do that is because I realize that in all situations, people and relationships are going to be impacted.  When you are impacting a person or group of people with your decisions and actions, you must include that in your thought process.  In both specific challenges that I am thinking about, I was not experiencing much success in determine a plan that would lead to a win-win.  This is when I decided to reach outside myself.

I was able to identify a person who I could contact that had some knowledge of the situation and the individuals involved.  By taking the time to sit down and talk through the situation, the individuals, and the thoughts I had in regards to a course of action, I was able to formulate a much different plan that would provide a greater opportunity for win-win to occur.  The partners that I asked to journey through the challenge with me, gave great insight and wisdom.  They helped me to see where my emotions were being triggered.  They helped me see how my words and actions could be interpreted.  They helped me to come to a much healthier and wiser course of action than I could ever achieve on my own.

For some reason, many of us struggle to remember to get outside of ourselves.  We forget to take the time to seek input from others.  We forget to take the time to step back before charging into action.  We have the perception that we must do it all ourselves.

Moses‘ father-in-law, Jethro, gave Moses some great advice as Moses was trying to lead the people of Israel.  Moses was becoming exhausted trying to mediate disagreements between the people.  He was having to create a plan of action for the nation as a whole and at the same time try to end the fights among the people.  So Jethro told Moses this:

“Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”  (Exodus 18:19-23)

Jethro was telling Moses to get outside himself.  He was instructed Moses to allow others to become involved in the situation.  Moses was trying to do it alone and Jethro said no.

My hope is that I will always remember to get outside myself when dealing with challenges.  My hope is that I will remember to seek the wisdom and perspective from others as I strive to faithfully lead.

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