Okay, that’s a big claim. But that’s the category this falls into for me.
I can’t get the question off my mind. I heard Michael Hyatt ask it and it’s proving to be extremely clarifying
The question addresses one of the most serious issues anyone leading anything faces: obstacles that will set you back and discourage you.
Before we get to it, let me give you some context.
When you start out in leadership, you see the road ahead as filled with opportunities.As you get a little more experienced, you see that it’s also filled with obstacles.
Between you and the opportunities are obstacles that take out more than the fair share of leaders.
The obstacles leaders routinely hit include:
Lack of money
Difficult team members
Your limits as a leader
It’s easy to end up discouraged, defeated and deflated because things didn’t turn out nearly the way you thought they would.
But the truth is things rarely, if ever, do turn out the way you originally think they will.
The difference between leaders who make it over time and realize their mission and the leaders who don’t is simple: successful leaders learn how to navigate obstacles.
That’s where Michael Hyatt’s excellent question comes into play.
Here’s the question:
What does this experience make possible?
I love the question because it helps you find the opportunity in every obstacle.
When obstacles present themselves it’s easy to ask questions like:
Why is this happening?
How come this doesn’t seem to happen to other people?
What I have I done to deserve this?
Is this ever going to end?
Those questions are natural, but they are not all that helpful.
What does this experience make possible? is a much better question.
There are 5 ways this question can help you:
1. It will seed innovation. A few years ago some of us tried to buy a building to start Connexus. At the 11th hour the deal fell apart. We had to be innovative in finding a solution on almost no resources. It led those of us who started Connexus to begin our ministry in movie theaters and in two locations. While not everyone saw that as an ideal scenario at the time, it was innovative. And 5 years into it:
i. We have discovered that portable church is sustainable and is compelling for both churched and unchurched people.
ii. Our two locations have reached more people than one ever did.
iii. We are reaching more people than we ever have before.
iv. The challenges of doing portable, multisite church has created a greater alignment in leaders than I’ve ever experienced and rarely see elsewhere.
2. It will force you to think realistically but positively. The question forces you to deal with reality but not get stuck in thinking there are no options. Negative thinking is contagious. When you run into obstacles almost daily as a leader – which you will – how you think about them ultimately impacts how your organization thinks about them. Asking what this experience makes possible will force you to see where the opportunities are in every situation and force you to get out of any potential rut.
3. It will remind you that God is with you. There are almost no ‘everything went just the way I thought it would without any opposition or issues’ stories in the Bible. Noah faced ridicule and a flood. Joseph got sold out by his family, imprisoned and betrayed before he became Prime Minister. David was anointed king…and then waited while the current king tried to kill him. Daniel met lions. Jesus’ life was characterized by constant opposition. Paul spent much of his ministry in jail. And God was with them. They didn’t give up, and fulfilled the ministry God had given them beautifully.
4. It will help end the pity party. Too many leaders sulk or grow cynical. You end up stuck in your own leadership or criticizing anyone who is a bit more successful than you. Not a good place to live.
5. It will help you lead with hope. Leaders are dealers in hope. That’s the Gospel, right? As bad as it gets, Jesus is Lord. As out of control as it seems, God is in control. Hope bridges the gap between what we see today and what we will see one day. You need to lead with hope. Think about it: don’t you wish people in power today led with more hope?
What do you think of the question?
How might it help you grow as a leader?