I join Dan Owolabi, author of Authentic Leadership, to share about the design and process of writing our books.
Originally written for and posted on Branches Worldwide: branchesworldwide.org/blog/getting-out-your-own-and-your-teams-way-christopher-white
My leadership journey has not been a straight line.
I have meandered down multiple paths, many of which led to dead ends.
But each path, successful or not, had lessons that are integral to my story.
One of those lessons is tied directly to my strengths and, probably more aptly stated, my weaknesses as a leader.
I have come to realize that I am very good, excellent even, at very few things.
In fact, it may be a singular area that I genuinely excel as a leader.
That realization was both humbling and surprisingly freeing.
I experienced freedom from:
Before accepting that I needed others that were more talented than me, in their areas, to accomplish my vision, I fell into the trap that I had to do everything, and it was all on me to make my vision a reality.
I stripped power from the people around me by insisting that:
What an insecure fool.
And insecurity is exactly what I was operating out of.
Insecurity manifests itself in many forms.
And one way it can manifest in leaders is the myth of self-sufficiency.
It is also known as bootstrapping.
"I can lift myself up under my own efforts and power."
Self-sufficiency is easier than team building.
You have to risk less in being emotionally intelligent about yourself and others.
You have to invest less in building strong and healthy relationships.
You don't have to take time to have a well-defined and defended culture and values that guide global decision making.
But you also can't ever move beyond your strengths and weaknesses.
And your business is limited to only what you are focusing on and cannot be expanding in multiple directions at the same time.
The toxicity of the self-sufficiency manifestation of insecurity is that it sounds like you should be able to do it.
But the reality is that no one can pull hard enough on their own bootstraps to lift themselves off the ground.
Recently I released a book based on this very topic.
Bootsville is a story that explores the frustration and limitations of the mentality of self-sufficiency, and conversely, the satisfaction of belonging in a team where your strengths are deployed in the best direction possible.
When I was able to confront my insecurity and empower my team, I was able to focus on where I generated the greatest return on investment for White Law Office.
And in the new paradigm for generating ROI for my team, I needed to be, first and foremost, available to them.
Before, I was present with them but taking power from them by trying to control everything.
Now, I am available to them and empowering them to grow their areas of responsibility.
Being available has allowed my team to step into new areas knowing that I have their back and am there to support them - success or failure.
Before, they were led in areas where I could not train them beyond my level of mediocrity.
Now, they are free to grow beyond my experience and knowledge base.
Sometimes the most significant thing a leader can do to empower their team is getting out of the way.
Focus on where your strength amplifies your organization's vision, mission, and purpose and recruit people better than you to round out what is needed.
As your focus narrows, your impact will become more powerful.
By finding your place inside the team and empowering your team to function in their strengths, you will accomplish more, with less time, energy, and effort, than you ever accomplished exerting all that effort trying to pick yourself up by your bootstraps.
Confront your insecurity.
Define your strength.
Find your team.
Empower each other.
Lead and be led from a place of strength.
There is a better way.
Christopher (Chris) White is based in Millersburg, Ohio and is the Managing Partner and Owner of White Law Office, Co., Author of "Bootsville: A Story for Visionaries, Organizers, and Implementors," Speaker, Teacher, Storyteller, Playwright, Director, Nerd, Husband, and Dad.
Bootsville is available in Paperback, on Kindle, or Apple Books.
Contact or follow Chris and his team at:
Twitter: @j3eight or @wlotweets
Instagram: j3eight_insta or whitelawoffice
Facebook: @j3eighttribe or @Thewhitelawoffice
Website: j3eight.com or thewhitelawoffice.com
Discussing ethics of in person and virtual negotiation
An old critique of my chosen profession that grounds me in the reality that postive substative peace is the goal.
It is exhausting.
Anxiety is the brain and body's way of telling us that we are about to enter into a potentially high-stress environment.
For those who struggle with more than ordinary anxiety, the signal can be turned up to 11 and sometimes not easily turned off.
I have for some time placed myself in situations that are high-stress and predictably raise up my anxieties.
I am an attorney, so my clients are often bringing stress with them.
I am a business owner, so there are a good amount of stress triggers in running a business and team.
I have a business partner and part of being in a partnership is not always agreeing.
I expose my thoughts and creations to the world and there are unknown types and degrees of feedback (or apathy).
I speak publically in various environments to groups with strong opinions.
Family, friends, being a husband and father, there are a number of stressful triggers.
While I don't struggle as much as some, I am constantly making volitional choices to move forward into environments where my anxiety can be validated by high-stress triggers.
When coupled with the energy I expend as an introvert just being in those environments, it is exhausting.
Far from being a negative experience, the reality of anxiety, stress, and introversion creates a significant mental, emotional, and physical drain.
A drain that must intentionally be replenished.
I tend to have good experiences and meet cool people in high-stress environments.
And my life is often richer for those experiences.
But that does not mean it is not a choice to overcome anxiety to be a part of those experiences.
I share this not as a personal vomit of my struggle, but as hopeful encouragement for you to be brave choose to acknowledge your anxiety and embrace the experience that will enrich your life.
Trust me, your anxieties will be validated from time to time, but the richness of the risk will outweigh those times.
Be honest with how you feel.
Acknowledge what you need.
Be brave when confronted with anxiety.
Take the risk to see what is over the next ridge.
And whenever possible, don't go it alone.
Find your tribe.
Found your tribe.
See you over the next ridge!
We live in a linear progression moving from what was, into what is, while looking forward to what may be.
What was seems to be clear, but it is often tinted by our perspective.
What is is fleeting, and if we do not pay attention it quickly slips past us into what was.
What will be is barrelling toward us and we are trying to divine what it will be before it gets here.
Because we cannot escape this river of time we have evolved to place significance and meaning on moments that demarcate what was from what will be.
As we approach the beginning of a new year we know that there is no mystical renewal of our world when the clock turns from 11:59:59 to 12:00, but we place significance on the change.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
We have the ability to manifest sacred times and spaces that carry meaning and weight for our psyche and spirit.
We tell stories about what will be and inspire each other to reach for what could be next.
Do not underestimate the latent power of humanity to carve out meaning from the mundane and raise it up to significance.
And do not diminish the spirit of those who seek to create something of significance.
The reality is that time will continue to flow from one moment to the next without us.
The truth is that we create meaning and significance for those moments.
We anticipate what is next.
See you over the next ridge!
I was recently able to spend a morning in Cadiz, Ohio, with part of my team from White Law Office, Co.
We spent the morning working as personal shoppers alongside parents and grandparents as they picked up essentials, winter clothing, and gifts for the children in their families.
I set myself about the singular purpose of imbuing the event with as much dignity and honor as I could.
Whatever this season of life was for the participants, it does not define their value or worth as individuals.
As I escorted a young mother of 5 around the room talking about age-appropriate gifts, I reflected on our humble beginnings.
My wife and I were married young, while we were both still in college.
Despite work-study jobs and regular jobs, we graduated with significant college debt.
My wife had the only degree worth something in the market, Music Education, and I had a less practially useful degree, Advanced Bible Studies.
Fortunately, she found us both teaching positions as a small private academy
While small private academies pay is enough to live on, it doesn't provide for much more.
Those first years we made our daily expenses.
But we were reliant upon family and community for their generosity for those infrequent expenses like car tires, winter coats, repairs, and a lawnmower.
To put it in perspective, we didn't even make enough for our student loan holders to consider us capable of making payments.
I cannot imagine what it would have been like having children to care for during that time as well.
That season is almost two decades past, but I still remember the feeling of walking on a tight rope without a net.
But amid that uncertainty, there were the bright spots of the generosity of those that gave to us when we weren't sure how we were going to tackle the next significant expense.
And even those that gave to us beyond our needs.
I remember the one family that gave me the small standing piano so that I could give it to my wife as a present.
She used it to practice her music and teach private lessons.
That piano is still in our music room today.
When I was helping families pick out essentials and gifts, I didn't see individuals defined by their needs.
I saw people who were having their needs met so they can get through this season, however long it may last.
And I may have, despite being grinchy about the commercialized holiday season, got a little misty-eyed knowing that the kids are going to have something under the tree.
Whatever your season, keep moving forward, you are going to make it!
See you over the next ridge!