What Race Are You Running?
As we are running through this life it feels many times like a race towards our dreams, but the question that should be posed is which race are we running? Many people are sprinting as they hope they can reach their dream with almost instant results. Unfortunately, the likely hood of that is not very probable. Many people are pacing themselves as they understand that the race toward their dreams is more like a marathon and in many accounts that is very true. Consistency is what builds effectiveness! However, there are those out there that are running the distance and they’re pacing themselves, but their ending is not a finish line but another runner. Those truly successful people understand that they are not running a sprint or a marathon as they are running a relay race. The total of their success lies in the legacy they leave not the material they accumulate. Their success is not found in the organizations they built up, but the people they built up. They will be remembered more for the great leaders they passed the baton to that ended up running the race farther than they could. Their impact is carried through the hands of every person they mentored as it becomes multiplied instead of just the individual feats they performed alone. Life is always better defined by how you left it than how you occupied it. Did you leave the world a better place than you came and will the work you started to be carried beyond your brief time on earth through the hands of those you discipled?
The race we must run is not an individual sport, but the ability to raise up effective leaders that can continue running far after we have stopped. Unfortunately, many leaders do not see it that way as they are more concerned with their trophy wall than the achievements of those around them. But I can I promise you that if we switch our thinking to understand that the higher we elevate our people the greater heights we will reach also.
So let’s look at a few important aspects of leaving an impactful legacy through the leaders you mentor.
1. Identify Them
As leaders, we have to always be scanning our people for potential. We have to see the raw greatness that can be developed. Many leaders have their heads down in their work that they miss the future that is right in front of them. Like Jim Collins says “We have to get the right people on the bus” and once you identify them just get them on the bus and figure out the seat later. Some of the greatest leaders of our future are surrounding you, but you have failed to identify them and if you don’t someone else will. Be looking for greatness in others, be listening to their desires, and observing their interactions with others. Once you have identified a future leader then move on to the next step.
2. Invest In Them
You have the wonderful opportunity to develop a young leader with the culture of your organization. This gives them an incredible jump-start personally and it’s also deeply impactful for your organization. Many leaders over-complicate investing in people and frankly panic at the thought, but the reality is the simpler the approach the more effective the results. The most effective way to disciple is to spend time with those that you are mentoring in conversation. You know more than you think and that comes out in conversations as you discuss topics and answer questions they may have. A great place to start is picking a book to read and discuss it together, going to a conference together, watching a webinar, or going through some of your organization’s training materials.
3. Care About Them
Burn out tends to take place when it is all business and their personal life becomes of no meaning to you or the organization. Effective leaders are the first effective in their homes. As leaders, we have to let our people know we care about them and simply that is shown by how we view them outside of the organization. Are we asking how they are doing personally, figuring out the pulse of their relationships, are we noticing that they are working too many hours, do they take time off? These are all important issues that as leaders we have to make sure we are discussing with those that we mentor and the simple fact is that asking them on a regular basis is a boast to morale. Not only that but it is great to catch a problem before it ever arises as prevention is always better than destruction.
4. Empower Them
You have to let them fly. We develop them, we train them, we give them feedback, but at some point, sooner than later, you have to empower them to run with something of importance. Many leaders are so scared to hand over the reins because they worry they won’t do it as well as them and that may be a reality at first. However, someone that has potential and passion will eventually surpass what you can do if and only if you give them the opportunity to do so. But what if they fail? Then you lead them as you help them learn from their mistakes and overtime their confidence will rise as they continue to grow!
5. Celebrate Them
Stop and celebrate them! Celebrate them privately. Celebrate them publicly. Fill their tank so full of honor on a constant basis that their value is never a question. Honor is what breeds loyalty and also it helps fuel productivity.
What race are you going to run? Let’s leave a legacy that continues far after we are gone!