Embrace the suck…

So, you say you want to pour yourself into someone on your team in work or life – you want to build them a bit better. Good, building another is a worthy aim. However, before you begin the building process with them, take a look in the mirror – a long, hard, honest look! Do you love yourself? Do you love your work and your team? Are you disciplined in productively acting toward your aim of mastering yourself and your craft? If you answer yes to these three with conviction and clarity, you are either self delusional or self confident. We’re going to assume you’re confident. Good. Building another will shake your confidence to it’s core, you’ll see.

Step two is not trivial either. Are you and your teammate willing to engage in honest dialogue? Here’s what this means. A good builder will tell you the truth about what she thinks. Don’t mistake this for telling another your thinking is truth. Slow down and sit with these thoughts for awhile. This is beginning to sound a bit more difficult, isn’t it? A good builder tells the truth about what they think. Roger that. And (this ones harder yet), a good builder will listen, really listen. A good builder tunes in like an animal being stalked, and guides their teammate toward better thinking of their own. Most of the time, the building process involves good listening at a 10-1 ratio to good speaking. Good builders ask the best questions, both curious and challenging. Speaking truth, you see, takes few words. Good builders understand that their teammates ideas are the ones they’re most likely to act upon. So, they use questions to get their teammates ideas out in the open.

Step three is just as important as one and two. Step three requires that the person you are building into tells you the truth about what he thinks and is coachable. This one is really difficult because you, the builder, have to begin by giving your teammate the benefit of the doubt. You cannot know how honest your teammate is willing to be until you begin the journey together. No matter how good you become as a builder, friend, your impact is mostly dependent upon how good you are at picking worthy targets. Everybody says they want to get better. Only a few are willing to do the work. Only a few have the courage to speak and listen to truth about themselves, and then figure out the best way forward for themselves.

Find your few.

Once you find worthy targets, focus on them. Cheat toward them, if you will. Make them do what they can. Love them enough to prepare for every practice like your life depends upon it. Expect them to forget, almost immediately, what you’ve done for them in previous practice. Expect their commitment to wane over time and through adversity. Expect most of them to quit or fire your sorriness for no reason. Expect them to demand more from you than they give you. Expect them to let you down. Give them more than they expect. Give them more than they deserve. Give them everything you’ve got and keep finding more inside of you to give them. Give freely. Expect less. Give more. This is the recipe for building human beings. It sucks to lead anything and anyone. Embrace the suck, leader.

God, help me continue to build mastery within me and my craft. God, thank you for giving me what I can’t repay, didn’t earn, and certainly don’t deserve. God, give me wisdom, patience, and courage. God, help me. Good…

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