Last week a friend of mine gave great talk on servant leadership at Inspired Leaders. So many great nuggets, yet interestingly enough, the one that stood out the most to me was when Terry asked the room to raise their arms if they are a leader. Because I was in the Army, it’s almost like muscle memory to me so I raised my arms as high as I could. Way above the head level. As Terry was looking across the room, he made a joke by saying “Any dinosaur arms?” and raising his hand to about chin level.
I was always pretty good at raising my arm when it came to tasks I had experience with, but not so much when it actually came to stepping out of my comfort zone. In those cases, I’d probably do even less than a dinosaur arms raise … I’d keep my hand down while pretending I didn’t hear the question.
See, I used to think that only subject matter experts are qualified to lead, but that’s not leadership. That’s management. The fact that the leader doesn’t know the answers, is precisely what qualifies him/her to lead the most, because he or she will not be swayed by preconceived notions.
In fact I’ll never forget when I was recruited to be a Life Teen Core Member of a Youth Ministry at my local church. I was like lady, I don’t have any kids, how could I possibly relate to other people’s kids? Particularly teenagers?
I’ll never forget what she said. She said God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called. Looking back, the fact that I knew nothing, and more importantly acknowledged that I knew nothing is exactly what made the experience so powerful. I was like a sponge and absorbed a whole lot more, because I didn’t let ego in the way.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing and much discomfort presented itself. I went through some dry periods where I wasn’t so sure if my efforts were making a difference. Yet it was that very discomfort, like exercise is to a muscle, that helped me come out much stronger than had I declined the Life Teen call.
Through this experience I learned that the fact that I don’t know something is exactly what qualifies me the most to be a leader and allows me to raise my hand high without feeling like a fraud.
What causes you to do a dino arm raise in your life? How can you turn that uncertainty into a leadership growth opportunity?
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