When was the last time you moved, or helped someone move, to a new home? I’ve been in the same house for 18 years, but I have helped many others move during that time. My family helped my folks move from their house of more than 40 years last summer. As you know, it is a difficult process. Tremendous time, energy, and expense is invested in organizing, purging, boxing, loading, transporting, unloading, re-organizing, purging more, and then finally settling. I understand that some military families may get used to the process, but I don’t think it is any less consuming.
When I wrote last summer about my parents’ move to a home just a mile from where I live, I pointed out a few decisions that need to be made in the moving process:
- What should I keep?
- What should I toss?
- What should I sell or give away?
I explained how each of these have a corollary application to your life and your leadership. What I didn’t address, though, is the role of other people in that process. I helped some friends move this past weekend and one of the important elements of that successful move was people.
There are many roles people need to full to have a successful move. Some of them include:
- Packers—People who move the contents of your drawers, closets, and cupboards safely into boxes and containers for loading into a moving vehicle.
- Lifters—Strong backs, arms, and legs are required to do the heavy lifting of all those boxes from home to vehicle and back to home again.
- Drivers—Whether the move is across town or cross country, safely driving a loaded van or truck is a critical step in the process.
- Organizers—It is important to efficiently organize belongings, safely pack them, and properly load them. Other elements of organizing include coordinating volunteers and vehicles (rented or borrowed), and arranging for utility shut off and turn on of utilities.
- Encouragers—Perhaps the most overlooked part of a move is the need for encouragement. Moving is a trying process and encouraging friends make a big difference at this crucial time.
You’re still with me? Good, but you’re asking “What’s the application to leadership?” When I wrote Moving Day last summer and challenged you to apply three questions to your leadership life (What should I keep? What should I toss? What should I sell or give away?), I failed to include the important element of people. I failed to address the critical role that people play in that process.
Most of these roles will be intuitively important to you, but please take a moment to assess how well you have cultivated and integrated people filling these roles into your life:
- Teachers—Each of us can point to teachers who delivered important life lessons to us (Kruschwitz, Ellis, Flowers, Lipke, McCaul, DellaVecchio, King, Winston, to name a few). Take time to inventory how these people touched your life and what role they played in who you are today. If you’re currently in school or contemplating a return to school, be intentional about your relationship with each teacher and soaking in what they can contribute to your life.
- Mentors—Perhaps one of the most misunderstood roles in a leader’s life, the value of mentors is a largely untapped resource. Take time to study what mentoring really is and how to integrate this into your life and leadership strategy. Over the past several years, I have enlisted a few formal mentors to help me develop specific dimensions of my life and leadership. I have also had a few informal mentors who were more like big brothers to me.
- Models—Not to be confused with idols, models are people you can look to to ask, “What would Joe do in this situation?” The ultimate life model is Jesus, thus the popular phrase, “What would Jesus do?” However, it often helps to have a more tangible example to work from. (A key question to ask, though, is how well do your chosen models fit the Jesus example?)
- Friends—Compared to women, men seem to have more difficulty developing close friends. This is nevertheless an important role in your life and career development. I’m not referring to socializing partners. I’m addressing people you trust with your innermost questions, concerns, and ideas. We need friends to love and encourage us when times are difficult. We need friends to laugh and relax with. We need friends to celebrate success with. We need friends to lovingly correct us. Do you have such friends in your life?
- Foes—Foes? Yes, foes. As I look back on my life, there are a fair number of people who stood in the way of my progress. Usually unintentional, these are people who created obstacles of many kinds that helped me to grow. Most importantly, they helped me to understand my own values and to understand more about who God says I am (vs who other people say I am). Take time to consider how your foes have shaped your life and leadership.
Of course, there are other important roles. My goal is not to explore them all. Instead, I hope you will consciously and intentionally evaluate your strategy for working with other people for your development.
God made us to be social creatures. Take a moment to consider all living things and how they all depend on one another. None of us is isolated into a “closed system.” We are required, as a law of life, to interact with other people and living things. In all of creation, we are the only beings that can strategize that relationship with others. Are you being strategic in your approach?
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.
Photo “The Moving Truck” by jonahcoyote. Available at Flickr.com.