Working off unwanted calories in a spinning class a couple of weeks ago, our trainer warned us that it will be important to sign up earlier than usual, for after the first of the year, classes will fill up fast. It never fails; it happens every January. There is something about the first of the year that gets people thinking about change, turning over a new leaf, and going on a crash diet. Athletic clubs seem to be high traffic areas for the first three weeks of the year. Than everything seems to go back to the way it was.
But reading a recent article (sent to me by one of my students) got me to thinking about a far better resolution than shedding pounds. In his “This One Leadership Quality Will Make or Break You”, Mike Myatt encourages leaders to consider a refresher in pursuitology. Leadership is all about pursuit. If you want to become a greater leader in 2012, become a great pursuer. So here are some mini resolutions this article has helped me to consider:
1. Resolve—to never be satisfied with static thinking.
Make 2012 the year of the pursuit of reading, the sort that stretches the thinking. Here are some current books that have or are doing just this:
- Craig Van Gelder, Missional Church in Perspective
- David Rock, Your Brain at Work
- Candace Millard, The River of Doubt
- Eugene Peterson, The Pastor
- Scot McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel
- Jim Collins, Great By Choice
Stretching one’s thinking involves more than reading. May 2012 be the year of meaningful conversations, the kind that expand one’s world view, alter former assumptions, and deepen one’s core convictions.
2. Resolve—to realize the consequences of not pursuing.
Failure to embrace pursuit is to cede opportunity to others. As I often tell my kids—“this world is not waiting for you. You must pursue it.” There has to be a fire burning inside. Otherwise, you will be forever on the outside looking in. You will be waiting for your ship to come in, and discover, when it is way too late, that you have been standing at the wrong dock.
3. Resolve—to pursue the right things.
I’m writing this as my dog snuck out the front door. And once he does, it’s a chase after all the wrong things—whatever happens to be out there—trivial pursuits that can get him lost or killed. It’s the same with us. We can pursue excellence, or settle for mediocrity. Pursue wisdom, or cede to foolishness. Pursue change, or surrender to status quo. Pursue creativity, or give in to the mundane. Pursue Jesus, or yield to a life of emptiness. As Myatt puts it, “…nothing tells the world more about a leader that what or who they pursue.” Knowing what not to pursue is just as important as knowing what to pursue.
4. Resolve—to pursue with the right energy.
Pursuit that is worthy is intentional, focused, aggressive, and unyielding. So here is my New Year’s resolution—to think carefully about the things that matter and go after them hard. Guard against distraction (Lord knows there are way too many); steer clear of second best; of what is comfortable and convenient.
5. Resolve—to pursue in a way that leverages velocity and scale.
I well remember a talk given by the CEO of Pepsico years ago in London. He brought his best and brightest together and challenged them to avoid incrementalism—making small changes to small things. Here’s what it looks like: cleaning out your inbox, answering your voice mail, and replying to any texts—and calling it a day. It is spending the day in endless chitchat, scrolling down the latest comments on Facebook, reading the latest novel and chocking it up as study. Small changes to small things is a waste of time. So here’s my resolution—leverage the scale by giving more attention to making big changes to big things.
6. Resolve—to enlist others in the pursuit.
Myatt notes that the best forms of pursuit bring others into the chase. “Pursuit in its purest form is highly collaborative.” So much of Scripture is addressed to the community, not the individual. It’s a reminder that the sort of pursuit that really matters is corporate—not merely personal. It is engaging the congregation in such a way that something has been transferred–they now have joined in the chase.
7. Resolve—to pursue being a better leader.
To do less is to drift, devolve, and become obsolete.
Spinning is great exercise, but at the end of the session, you are still in the same place. Myatt’s challenge is give yourself to real movement. Pursue! You cannot attain what you do not pursue.