By John Trombley
The Village Business Institute
On August 11 and 12, I joined more than 300,000 people from around the world to attend the Global Leadership Summit (www.willowcreek.com/summit) and found myself feasting on the wisdom and expertise of world-class speakers as we explored various facets of leadership across a broad spectrum of industries. With too many takeaways to list, I find myself forced to narrow my scope to share only a few of the things I learned from Jossy Chacko, Founder and President of Empart, Inc., a global ministry focused on transforming underserved communities in Asia.
When it comes to expanding one’s leadership influence, Chacko emphasized three main points. First, leaders must be willing and able to expand their own vision. I know at times I’ve lost sight of my vision largely because I have not taken the time to refresh myself, but also because I have allowed daily tasks and routines to cloud my vision. Sometimes I get stuck behind a tree in the middle of the forest, and until I do something to get around, over, or through it, I’m forced to repeat lessons over and over again. Chacko reminds us that we all have talents and passions that serve our vision, and that we may need to reactivate them if we hope to accomplish great things and become all we envision. I particularly appreciated Chacko’s reminder that cultivating a big vision helps us to see the opportunities that surround us, while having a vision that essentially seeks to protect what we have already done only prevents us from seeing those same opportunities. The question then becomes, how big is your vision? Is it big enough to make your heart beat a little faster? Is it big enough to even scare you a little bit? Is it big enough that people around you tell you it can’t be done? If so, I’d say you’re on the right track.
The second point he made is that if we hope to be successful as leaders, we must empower people. Now, I know that’s been a management buzzword for years, yet you and I still run into situations where people feel anything but empowered. I like what Ken Blanchard once said about empowerment: that it is not something we bestow on people, but rather it is in our creating an environment in which people feel free to use their talent, education, training and passion to do the work that lies before them. Yes, there is risk involved. The biggest risk, however, is empowering someone who lacks character to begin with, but aside from that, people do make mistakes. People fail; I have and so have you. So let’s stop pretending that we’re something special and give others a chance to fail as well. For what it’s worth, I’ve learned some of my greatest life lessons because of my failures, not in spite of them. My guess is I’m not the only one. Back to empowerment: when we practice it, it becomes a tool for exponential growth. Individuals grow, we grow, and the organization grows.
Finally, Chacko encourages us to embrace risk – with wisdom, of course. He sees risk as “a friend to be loved, not something to fear.” This naturally requires one to increase one’s pain threshold. It’s easier said than done, of course, but the payoff can be, well … world record-breaking. Like many of you, I was captivated by the performance of the USA women’s gymnastics team in the Olympics. Watching these young superstars perform on the uneven parallel bars, the floor exercises, and the balance beam in particular, I was impressed by the risks of personal injury they have each taken and overcome throughout their young careers, to say nothing of the risks associated with performing on the world stage. Without a doubt, the vast majority of us would not even consider taking those risks without years of training and preparation (wisdom) if at all, yet the refrain I hear in my mind is, “no guts, no glory.” So the question for all of us becomes, what is it that we fear? More specifically, what do we fear losing? Faced with that reality – or at least our perception of reality – by not taking a risk, is there something greater that we will automatically forfeit, and if so, are we willing to live with that knowledge for the rest of our lives? Michael Phelps chose to risk competing in the Olympics one last time in order to avoid the pain of regret. And man, did that pay off.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for you and me to rise up to our full potential. Expand your vision, empower others to join you in the journey, and take risks worth taking in order to be the world-changer you were meant to be, even if it’s “only” the world defined by the confines of your own home or small office. All it takes is a small spark to start a forest fire. It’s time to get crackin’.
John is the Village Business Institute’s Consulting & Training Manager and also serves as an Organization Development Consultant and Trainer. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo where he serves as an adjunct faculty member. He is a motivational speaker with over 18 years of experience in providing training programs and consulting services in a wide variety of organization development scenarios. John is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator under ADR Rule 114, and is also certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management.
Previously, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.