Wants vs Needs

Wrecked car

I once owned a Mazda Millenia. I’ve owned four cars that were “mine”—ones that were not family cars. The Millenia was my favorite. It was dark green, had a sunroof, tan leather interior, “bun warmers” (which is important in Minnesota), and a great sound system. It was quiet, comfortable, and a smooth ride. On June 10, 2010, Julie and I and our sons were on the way to a karate class when we were hit in an intersection. None of us was seriously hurt, but the car was totaled.

While we were thankful to God for protecting us from harm, the loss of the car was honestly a sad event. I spent the next few days, in between family and work responsibilities, dealing with police reports and insurance claims. A few days later, I began researching a replacement for my favorite car.

Two weeks later, it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t need to replace my car.

Julie and I had been a two car family for 23 years of marriage. During most of that time I was self-employed, working from a home office. That was still the case at the time of the accident. We were also homeschooling the boys (who were then 14). Most of what we did that required transportation we did as a family—school, martial arts, church activities, family outings to the science museum and parks, vacations, and so on…

We rarely used two cars at a time, but we had two vehicles all those years. It was “normal.” It’s what I thought I needed.

It wasn’t what I needed. So I didn’t replace the car.

In fact, we’re still a single-car family. We have a 2000 Honda Odyssey with 302,000 miles on it. We’ve driven 212,000 of those miles. The car has been nicknamed Lazarus because we have resurrected it from the dead on a few occasions, repairing it when most others would have replaced it.

Being a single-car family is a bit hard at times, especially when Alex and Andrew are home from college. We communicate and plan and make it work. My folks are also generous in sharing one of their cars with us on occasion.

It’s very easy to confuse wants and needs. Wants are emotionally driven. They are rooted in experiences and feelings. They are often rooted in hopes. They aren’t always rooted in reality, though.

Two Keys:

  1. It takes a great deal of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and humility to accurately distinguish between your own wants and needs.
  2. It takes a great deal of discernment and wisdom to distinguish between the wants and need of others.

Last week I wrote about the differences between leading those who want to be led and leading those who want to lead. Between those two groups, there are important differences in how you communicate, delegate work, follow up, establish accountability, and more.

I also shared my realization that there are also those who want to lead, but actually need to be led. At the same time, there are those who want to be led, but need to lead.

These disparities can pose a great quandary for the leader in leading others.

Think about it for a moment. You probably have at least one person on your team, or know of someone working for a colleague, who wants one and actually needs the other.

What does this look like?

  • People who are stuck and can’t seem to move forward in their career. They are frustrated with their situation and neither you nor they have succeeded with help them make the next jump
  • People who don’t seem to understand their impact on others (usually negatively or at least a tendency to make themselves and others uncomfortable).
  • People who have unnecessarily low self-confidence or…
  • People who have unwarranted high self-confidence.
  • People who are overly risk averse or…
  • People who show lack of wisdom in taking risks.

Do you know anyone who fits one of those descriptions? If so, their might be a mismatch between their wants and needs for leading or being led.

Next week, I’m going to share a simple tool to help you diagnose these situations. Proper diagnosis is the beginning of more effective leadership and coaching on your part.

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.

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