If you've ever been around a cross country team you've seen some pretty bad t-shirts. When I was in high school our above average CC team had a shirt that had a paragraph long story on back. I'm not sure I ever finished reading the entire thing. Something about a lion. A gazelle. I think baby Jesus was in there? All I know is you're suppose to wake up and run...or something like that.
A couple of years ago I saw a simple slogan on a CC T-shirt that actually made sense. It read, "Your pace or mine?" Simple. Little. Yellow (just kidding). Brilliant. If you run competitively that's going to come up. Am I going to set the pace or am I going to try to keep up with someone else.?
Trying to keep up is a huge trap for leaders.
This morning I went for a run. Yes, this is the same site with "Things big men don't understand" in the menu. So, what I'm saying is running doesn't come easy. At least not distance running. And every so often I can be on the track and try to compete with someone else's pace. Say hi to my pride. The desire to not look as slow, or as unfit, or
much larger than someone else can get the best of me. My pride can drive my run into the ground because I try to take on a pace I can't keep.
As a leader have you experienced the fall of trying to keep up with someone else's leadership pace?
How do you know if your trying to lead at someone else's pace instead of your own? Here are some ideas:
1. You compare...a lot - Only you can really measure this one. Because we can compare our success to someone else's success silently in our hearts. A sure sign that you are comparing is that you have private moments where you think, "I wish I was gifted in the way So-And-So is." Comparison will cause you to try to operate at someone else's pace and it will burn you out.
2. You're discouraged because no one praised you - This is not an easy pill to swallow but I have to say it. The day you decided to lead was the day you stopped seeking praise. When you assume a leadership roll, the people who follow you look at you as though you assumed the leadership role. This means you are supposed to do things no one else does. I know that sounds harsh but it will keep you from getting a tough heart through bitterness and hurt. Praise can't be what pushes you forward, that kind of drive has to be found through fulfillment to a call. The thrill of obedience is often over looked but it causes longevity.
3. You're exhausted - I've been to a few CC meets where a kid crashes to the ground just short of the finish line. They don't finish because of fatigue. This is a clear indicator they were trying to live at someone else's pace. If you are exhausted as a leader you need to slow down. Notice I didn't say do significantly less. But you need give yourself permission to slow down. Be creative with your time and where you can get things done in spaces you typically didn't before. Plus, if it's been over a year since your last vacation or time off; you're not going to make it much longer as a leader.
Each of us has unique gifts as a leader. Therefore, each of us are going to have our own pace when it comes to leading as well. You are able to lead through some obstacles quicker than I could and vice versa. But when it comes to your pace or mine I hope you choose yours.
How else have you recognized that you are trying to lead at someone else's pace? What feelings did that surface and what did you do to outlast those feelings? Please leave a comment below!