Monday, December 21, 2015

#21 - Ready or not (2/7)

A friend of mine - "James" - is on the leadership team of a large organization.

There has been turmoil there recently and James was subsequently asked to step up to be interim leader. He wasn't expecting it. He didn't want to be in charge. But everyone was asking him to do it.

"At 5 years with this job, I actually have some of the most experience, and they see me as the most qualified. Kind of scary, isn't it?"

I found that question to be funny.

Inherent in it is another question that I can relate to:

"Who, me??"

It conveys self-doubt and the presumption that many other people are more qualified than us.

I see James as a strong leader, capable, intelligent, wise, great with people and a good heart. He's exactly the person I would want in the lead of an organization.

But he doesn't feel that sure of himself. Not yet. Not now.

It made me wonder how many other great leaders throughout history felt what he was feeling.

Do U.S. Presidents ever wake up on some morning and realize they have no one to look to for leadership? Does panic ever set in? Overwhelm? We don't see these moments, but I'm sure they happen.

Did Napoleon question himself before making key military decisions?

I wonder how often movie directors of large, long-term projects doubt their creative direction and decision. I wonder if they ever want to just hit "escape" and run away from the pressure.

I'm almost positive that most of the leaders we admire and respect went through this.

Even Jesus, leading right up to the Crucifixion, knelt in anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed, "Father, if You are willing, take away this cup from me."

This is a person considered by many people as God in the flesh, the perfect human whom they trust completely. His disciples left everything to follow him. And yet, even Jesus before his defining hour didn't feel ready. 

It must be a heavy burden to bear. It's human nature to want to run away. We ask, "Does it really have to be me??"

The answer is, in many cases, yes. It's up to you.

You're the best one to lead. You're the best one to speak up. No one else has your particular talent and voice.

I shared some of these thoughts with James, and remarked that maybe he's the same as all the "greats" that came before. That his self-doubt may be a sign that he is ready, not that he's not.

I hope that my friend begins to trust himself a little more, that he will be patient when he makes mistakes, and know that he's more capable than he realizes.

I hope this for James because I have the same hope for myself.

The next time I am overcome with self-doubt, I hope I remember my words of encouragement to him, so I can look at the leader in the mirror and say, "I got this."

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