Rick Warren wrote these words a while ago that have stuck with me:
“Don’t just tell it like it is. Tell it like it could be.”
Great leaders, he wrote, tell people what they’re going to become, not just what they are already.
As a young person in ministry, I can’t even begin to tell you how vital it is for people to affirm me and tell me who I am going to become.
These kind of leaders give you life. They show you the doors of possibility and open you up to new ways of being.
This isn’t some weak self-esteem boosting. It’s not affirming someone when they are truly doing are horrible job. It’s not giving them tasks they have no way of successfully completing.
Instead, this is about showing, telling, leading, walking with, and guiding people to what they are going to be, and not just focusing on who they are.
As I’m reading through Seth Godin’s latest book, Linchpin, he cites Roz and Ben Zander in their book, The Age of Possibility. In it, Ben challenges his music students to “give yourself an A.” “His point is that announcing in advance that you’re going to do great — embracing your effort and visualizing an outcome — is farm more productive tan struggling to beat the curve.”
Essentially, Ben affirms people before they’re going to begin.
As an avid sports fan, I’m always amazed at the stories of the young prodigies who get jobs “too young” as General Managers, Head Coaches, and other roles.
Theo Epstein became the GM of the Boston Red Sox at age 28.
Josh Pastner became the head coach of the Memphis Tigers’ basketball team at age 32.
Jon Daniels became the GM of the Texas Rangers at age 28.
Brad Stevens became the head coach of Butler basketball team at the age of 30.
The point is: Were these people “ready”? Were they “too young?” Or did someone recognize potential in them and tell them what they were going to become?
The biggest influences in my life have always been the people who tell me like it could be, the people who give me more responsibility than I’m quite ready for, the people who look me in the eye and tell me they believe in me.
I used to always say the first job of every leader is to define reality. But I’ve changed that a bit. The first job is to define reality AND tell people what reality is going to become.
Who are you telling it like it could be?