3 Struggles That Hurt Your Effectiveness

I just met a guy who does 150 pushups every morning.

Understand what I'm saying, he does 150...with no break! That is insane.

Now I love to workout, am pretty fit and have a solid pushup game. However, I admit that I cannot keep up with my new friend.

My new friend's strength got me thinking about areas I am equally tough.  It is usually because I focus on them at the gym. Conversely I have things I do not work on that have become weak spots physically. My lack of attention has allowed them to be a struggle.

Weak spots go beyond just physical. Life is peppered with inadequacies. Leadership is not excluded. Every leader has struggles. It is a part of what reminds a leader they are also human. No matter how successful or seasoned, all leaders have at least a small handful of nagging problems.

One common denominator of struggles is that leaders are embarrassed to admit them. We feel like these issues may disqualify us from leading. We work on them, we cover them up, but we rarely own them

Today I want to share with you my major struggles as a leader. I will confess, this is a bit more transparent than I am comfortable being. I heard years ago that, "Isolation leads to devastation."  So my hope is that peeking behind the curtain of my insecurities can help you bring your own into the light. 

Being viewed as a fraud.

The number one thing that wakes me up during the night is the fear that one day others are going to realize I really don't know what I am doing. Why? Because there are many days when I do not feel like I know what I am doing! 

I grew up in a small town, still possess a blue collar mindset, did not finish college until I was 36 years old, have zero pedigree in ministry and one leader I worked for told me that I was not a good communicator. While I am not embarrassed by those things, I am often haunted by them. They drive fear in my heart. 

The danger is in how I allow fear to rule me. All of those things I listed have never held me back but have shaped success for me. However, fear has convinced me otherwise. Fear of being exposed as a fraud paralyzes me from being all I am created for. 

Disappointing people.

I have recently had this blind spot pointed out to me by a friend. There is something inside of me that deeply fears letting people down. I do not mind making difficult decisions, having really hard conversations or even firing people, but disappointing someone who is counting on me is more than I can stomach.

This leads me to be a rescuer to those I lead. When they face obstacles I often fix their issue or solve their problem. In my mind this is helping them. In their mind I am not trusting them to solve the problem on their own. It limits my leadership.

What is worse is how I respond to some people I am not leading.  Often when I have had people who were needing an answer from me and I knew I would have to tell them "no", I will just avoid them. In some cases I have completely vanished and become impossible to contact. I have not answered emails or phone calls. I know that is ridiculous. It is humiliating to admit. When we allow blindspots to go unaddressed they become character flaws. I have had to repair damage done to my character because of it. It is my struggle.

Second guessing decisions.

I never make a decision that I do not second guess. Over time I have learned to cover this up. One cover up I use is bulldozing people at times when they disagree with a call I make. Another was I compensate is by following up strong statements by asking, "Know what I mean?" Many leaders mask insecurity by posturing themselves as "decisive." 

What is odd about this struggle is that I usually make great decisions. My initial gut reaction will often land dead on, I am disciplined in my process of deciding anything, and I am capable of completely removing emotion in order to make a healthy call. I also have maturity in seeking wise counsel and not rushing. However, in spite of that, I still second guess myself.

Where this hinders me is I delay making a move out of fear of being wrong. Sometimes I have waited months to pull the trigger on something both me and others knew was right due to this. For those on my team they begin to question what I value, if I have the guts to do the tough thing, and if I really do what I say I will do. Second guessing yourself can lead to others second guessing your credibility. 

So what do we do?

You may find commonality with my issues. They may make you feel better about yours! Certainly you have struggles of your own. We cannot deny or outrun them. They are always there.

Find the courage to overcome them by doing two things. First, own it. Quit denying it. Others know it. If you do not think you have struggles, ask the most honest person you know. Emotionally own that you have some struggles that may embarrass you and want to hold you back. Next, tell someone. Now don't go tell everyone on your team or start posting it on Facebook. No. Tell a couple of friends. Ask for help. Establish accountability. There is power in confession.

You have a measure of greatness inside of you. Along with that you have struggles too. It is up to you how much of both see the light of day. Discover your greatness by confessing your struggles.

Thanks for reading. Now I am off to see how many pushups I can do!