11: Leading In Anxious Times, Becoming A Calm Leader (Part 2)

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ENC Leadership Podcast

Show notes:

3:10 – What calm leadership is and isn’t

We do not want to be calm so that we can do nothing while the world is on fire around us. Rather, in order to know the right thing to do, the right place to start, and the right people to tap and listen to—we need to be calm. Otherwise, we will just be another symptom in the anxiety that’s filling the whole world.

4:15 – Four steps in becoming a calm leader

1. Increase your self awareness 

a. Through self disclosure

– Share what you are going through with trusted people.

b. By receiving feedback

– Get it from different people and not just from an echo chamber. Social media can be very easily an echo chamber. An echo chamber is where you just confirm what you already know, where people repeat opinions that you are already saying.

– “The source of everything respectable in man either as an intellectual or as a moral being [is] that his errors are corrigible. He is capable of rectifying his mistakes, by discussion and experience. There must be discussion to show how experience is to be interpreted.” – John Stuart Mill (also quoted in Episode 1: Why This Podcast Isn’t Enough)

– “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” – Proverbs 27:6 (NIV)

2. Monitor your thinking patterns

Some of these thinking patterns:

  • All-or-nothing thinking – Ask yourself: Why do I only have two options?
  • Mind reading – Assuming someone else’s motives
  • Fortune telling – Predicting how things will turn out, usually badly
  • Magnification – One thing dominates your entire view. When we are anxious, we can’t tell if something is a legitimate emergency or an artificially-magnified thing.
  • Emotional reasoning – “I feel, therefore it is.”

3. Manage your feelings

  • Name your feelings – Use “I” language
  • Own your feelings – “Lord, I am responsible for this. Please give me the grace to manage my feelings.” Remember that you can’t control people’s behavior. More insight doesn’t produce change.
  • Examine your feelings – Should I do what these feelings are saying?
  • How are you and your feelings about the world, your family, your schooling right now?

4. Slow the pace

  • “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” – John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
  • “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can destroy our souls. Hurry can keep us from living well… The great danger is not that we will renounce our faith, but settle for a mediocre version of it. Again and again, as we pursue spiritual life, we must do battle with hurry. For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.” – John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
  • “One of the great illusions of our day is that hurrying will buy us more time.” – John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
  • Hurry sickness is “above all, a continuous struggle and unremitting attempt to accomplish or achieve more and more things or participate in more and more events in less and less time, frequently in the face of opposition, real or imagined, from other persons.” – Meyer Friedman
  • How is hurry sickness affecting you today?
  • “Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.” – John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
  • “Solitude is important as a leader… Solitude is the one place where we can gain freedom from the forces of society that will otherwise relentlessly mold us.” –  John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
  • Are we more molded by the issues of the world than we are by Jesus?
  • “In solitude, I get rid of my scaffolding.” – Henri Nouwen
  • “Scaffolding is all the stuff we use to keep ourselves propped up, to convince ourselves that we are important or okay. In solitude we have no friends to talk with, no phone calls or meetings, no television sets, no music or books or newspapers to occupy and distract the mind. Each of us would be, in the words of the old hymn, ‘just as I am.’ Neither accomplishments nor résumés nor possessions nor networks would define me—just me and my sinfulness, my desire or lack of desire for God.” – John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted

30:42 – Conclusion

This is the foundation of leadership. When we do this, we move to becoming leaders, not being led. We can enact change in the world and not have the world mold us and dictate our responses. This is the kind of leader the world, our family, our friends need.

Questions to reflect on:

1. Who is your community who gives you honest feedback?

2. What thinking patterns do you catch yourself falling into?

3. How are you slowing the pace of your life?

Other resources mentioned in this podcast episode:

1. The Leader’s Journey by Jim Herrington
2. The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
3. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen

The ENC Leadership Podcast is hosted by Joseph Bonifacio.

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