As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.

Bill Gates

Being a leader isn’t always easy.

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.  Right?

If leadership stress, exhaustion, and inadequacy are common, there has to be a solution.

I’m sure we could point to many things that make leadership easier – getting more sleep, exercising regularly, reading, learning, and finding a mentor.  These are all valuable actions a leader can take to improve their leadership capabilities.  There another solution that too easily gets overlooked and sometimes misused.

Delegation is what I’m talking about.

I’m not talking about pawning off all the unpleasant tasks on someone else and acting as a dictator.  I’m talking about spreading out the work, so a leader and team can be more effective which will lead to less stress, less exhaustion, and a deeper feeling of adequacy and fulfillment.  Delegation is “the assignment of responsibility or authority to another person to carry out specific activities (Wikipedia).”

In yesterday’s post, we learned that Moses faced similar feelings of stress, exhaustion, and inadequacy.  His father-in-law, Jethro, saw what was going on, and he pointed out the problem to Moses.  As we continue the story in Exodus 18:19-27, we learn that Jethro had a solution to the problem he observed:

He recognized Moses’ role in leading the people of Israel, and he wisely recommended that Moses delegate his responsibilities to other men in the community – officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.  These men judged the simpler cases, and they brought the more challenging cases to Moses.  This action led to less strain on Moses, and more satisfaction among the people of Israel.

It seems rather simple.  Spread the work out.  Ease the load of the leader.  Use the leadership talents of others in the community.  And make the community happier.

Why is delegation so important?

In today’s post, here are six reasons leaders should delegate:

6 Reasons Leaders Should Delegate

  1. Delegation relieves stress and overload on the leader.  Leadership can be lonely, and it can be a heavy weight to bear alone.  Delegation disperses the weight, so the strain isn’t so great on any one person.
  2. Delegation allows leaders and teams to get more accomplished in less time.  If a leader tries to do it all my himself, it will obviously take him longer.  “Many hands make light work.”  By getting more people involved, more can be accomplished.
  3. Delegation frees up leaders for other tasks.  When a leader is overwhelmed, he will often miss out on other tasks he could and should be performing.  By delegating, a leader opens up time and energy for other priorities.
  4. Delegation buildings a better team.  When a leader tries to do it all by himself, he demonstrates a lack of confidence in his team.  This will demoralize a team.  Delegation done right provides an opportunity to motivate your team.  It also provides an opportunity to develop the skills and abilities of team members which will ultimately lead to a better team.
  5. Delegation generates more success.  When a leader gets others involved, he taps into the ideas and skills of other people who might otherwise be overlooked and underutilized.  When a team is used to its fullest, success is a natural byproduct.
  6. Delegation prepares for the future.  A leader will not be around forever.  Eventually, he will retire or move on to another opportunity.  It is good stewardship for a leader to prepare the next in-line leaders.  Grooming successors is an essential part of delegating, and it’s the best way for a leader to leave a legacy.

If you want to overcome stress, exhaustion, and feelings of inadequacy in your leadership, it’s time for you to start delegating.  Over the next few days, we’ll take a look at bad delegation and good delegation.  Come back tomorrow to continue the conversation.

Why is delegation important?  As a leader, how have you overcome stress, exhaustion, and feelings of inadequacy?

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What does your “To Do List” look like?

Do you have trouble accomplishing everything on your list?

Do you feel like you can never catch up?

Do you feel like you are always behind?

Do you feel stressed out, exhausted, and inadequate?

Do you wish there was an easy way to fix all this, so you could feel more productive, more effective, and more relaxed?

I don’t think you are alone.  In fact, I think this is a problem that many leaders face today.  They take on so much responsibility that they end up burying themselves.  I don’t think it’s meant to be this way.  I think there is an answer.  Before we get there though, I think it’s valuable to see how we’re not alone in this.

If you are familiar with the story of Moses and the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt to The Promised Land, you may recall that Moses didn’t always have it together.  He was the leader of a whole nation, and he faced times of stress, exhaustion, and burn-out.

In Exodus 18:1-18, we see it more clearly:

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, comes to visit Moses on the journey through the desert.  He brings Moses’ wife and children with him.  Moses had actually sent his family away, so he could focus on the task at hand – leading the nation of Israel.  During their visit, Moses shows Jethro everything the Lord has done for the people of Israel.  Jethro was thrilled with the news, but he began to notice a problem.  Moses spent all his time serving as judge for the people of Israel.  He heard every dispute, and he made every decision related to these disputes.  This was not a small task.  The people of Israel consisted of several hundred thousand people.  How could one man handle all this?  This was exactly the observation of Jethro.  No wonder Moses was facing burn-out.

I don’t know what your situation is right now.  Maybe you started the new year off with the best intentions and a long list of goals and tasks.  Maybe you are starting to feel the pressure and stress of trying to do too much.  If you are a leader (and I’m guessing you are), it’s time to do something about it.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting about how you can turn this around – how you can overcome the burden of having to do everything yourself.

As we get started, it’s a good opportunity to evaluate your current state of your leadership.

How would you answer the questions we started with today?  As a leader, have you ever felt overwhelmed?

 

Ice Breaker – Interview

January 23, 2015 — 4 Comments

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Fridays are Ice Breaker days here on The Stretched Blog.  Before we get to this week’s question, I want to ask you to help me out by answering five questions related to short-term missions.  The survey was initially presented on the blog last week, but I understand some had trouble completing the survey on the blog.  After answering the Ice Breaker below, please click here to go directly to the survey.  It will only take a minute (I promise).

Each week on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question. The questions are designed to help us get to know each other here in The Stretched Community. I’ll provide my answer to the question here in the post, and then you can leave your response in the comments. While you’re in the comments section, see how others answered the ice breaker question.

(I’m always looking for Ice Breaker question ideas.  If you have an idea, send me an email at jon@jonstolpe.com.  If I use your question, I’ll give you credit and share your links.)

This was a week of interviews for me.  I interviewed to gentlemen for engineering positions in my company, and I had the honor and privilege of being interviewed by Tammy Helfrich for her Right Where You Are Podcast (I’ll let you know when the interview goes live).  Interviewing is interesting.  It can be nerve-racking.  It can be exciting.  And it can certainly be eye-opening.  Today’s Ice Breaker question is inspired by my week of interviews.

Question:  Tell us about your first job interview.

My Answer:  I might be showing my age, but I can’t remember for sure my first job interview, but I can remember one of the first ones.  When I was in college, I needed a summer job between my junior and senior year.  Somehow, I connected with ServiceMaster.  I remember driving over to their office when I was home on break and talking to a few of the managers.  I was impressed by the company and their standards.  They gave me a book written by the founder of ServiceMaster about the Lord being the center of their business.  I was pretty impressed.  I seem to remember receiving a that evening offering me a job.  I was a little nervous at the job interview, and I was extremely excited about the opportunity to work for them over the summer.  The job required me to travel up to New England every week to take inventory on school equipment for their facilities management program.  It was an interesting stepping stone for me, and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to try something new.

Answer this week’s ice breaker question by leaving a comment. I look forward to reading your response! (As always, feel free to share links.) And keep Stretching!

As a reminder, please take a minute to fill out the short-term missions survey.  To get to the survey, click here.

Recipe For Success

January 22, 2015 — 3 Comments

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The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.

Vince Lombardi

Are you looking for success?

It takes time and hard work and persistence and patience to see things succeed.

We live in a “I want in NOW” culture.  But we must remember “Good things come to those who wait.”  Overnight success is unrealistic, rare, and temporary.

Put in the work, put in the effort, put in the time, and you will see a harvest worthy of what you put into the process.

Success is not for the lazy.  It’s for the diligent.

Don’t give up!

How do you define success?  How do you get there?

Relief

January 21, 2015 — 7 Comments

The blues are what I’ve turned to, what has given me inspiration and relief in all the trials of my life.

Eric Clapton

What is relief?

Whenever I hear the word relief, I think of the “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is commercial” from my childhood.

According the Webster’s dictionary relief is:

- a pleasant and relaxed feeling that someone has when something unpleasant stops or does not happen.

When did you last experience relief?

I had this feeling last Friday night when Ryan from the Geek Squad at our local Best Buy helped to locate some “lost” files on our external backup hard drive.

I was feeling stressed out, frustrated, and awful, because I thought I lost several important files when our Macbook had to be wiped clean.  I made a backup before the computer was cleaned, so I felt certain I’d be able to restore the important files back to the computer after its cleaning.  When I went to restore the files, I couldn’t locate the most important ones on the computer.

I spent several hours working on the problem.  I even woke up real early Friday morning to work on it before I started my day.  Friday night after work, I tried a few more things without success.  In a last-ditch effort, I took the machine along with the external backup hard drive to an expert (Ryan) who had me on the right path within a few minutes.

The feeling of relief that swept over me when we located the files was unbelievable.

I literally spent all night Thursday and all day Friday worrying about these files.  And within a few seconds my worries were erased and replaced with relief.

Worry is a funny thing.  It takes over like the plague.  It almost paralyzes us.  And yet, Jesus reminds us not to worry in Matthew 6:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:25, 33-34

The ultimate relief from our worries lies in trusting and resting in God’s care.  When things get crazy – when you lose the files on your computer – don’t forget to turn to God.  After all, He cares for us.

When was the last time you experienced remarkable relief?

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I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?

Ernest Hemingway

I wouldn’t say my life is falling apart right now, but I have to admit that I probably could use a bit more sleep.

I was listening to the 48 Days Podcast with Dan Miller yesterday, and there was a brief statement he made that made me think about my sleep habits.  Dan said “successful people get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.”  Too many people try to go at life with less sleep, and they end up driving themselves into the ground.

I typically go to bed around 10:30PM (probably closer to 11PM), and I’m up at 4AM which means I’m only getting five to five and a half hours of sleep a night.  Based on Dan Miller’s commentary, I’m not setting myself up for success.

David says in Psalm 4:8:

“I will lie down and sleep in peace for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”

We used to read this verse to our kids when they had trouble sleeping.  I don’t know about you, but I sometimes allow myself to get so busy during the day with the best intentions of accomplishing great things that I forget to give them up to God at the end of the day.  You and I need rest.  Our bodies and mind need sleep, so we can be effective during the day.  Sleep is God’s gift to us.

I’m actually writing this last night at 8:05PM.  It’s time to shut it down and head towards bed.  I can’t promise I’ll do this every night, but I think it could be a good start towards something better for me.

How much sleep do you get each night?  Why do you think sleep is an important habit?

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If you’ve been following the blog world the past several weeks, there have been countless posts about setting goals and making plans for a great year.  Michael Hyatt launched a goal-setting campaign called Best Year Ever.  I think there is a lot of merit to setting goals, and I’m certain Hyatt’s curriculum is excellent and effective for helping subscribers to take action which will lead to a better year.

Today, I’d like to offer one simple mindset shift which will greatly improve your chances of having the “best year ever.”  It starts with two words:  THANK YOU!

Yes.  Your best year ever starts with gratitude.

I’m not talking about an occasional “thanks.”

I’m talking about developing a discipline of everyday gratitude.

Learning to be thankful and to express it regularly will lead to a much better year – perhaps, your best year ever.  Here are a few simple steps you can take to practice everyday gratitude:

3 Ways To Practice Everyday Gratitude

  1. Keep a thankful journal.  Thanks to my wife, we have a journal on our kitchen table.  Each night when we sit down for dinner, each of us takes turns writing down one thing for which we are grateful.
  2. Say “Thank you” at least once a day.  It helps to actually tell someone you appreciate them or something they did.
  3. Join the “Thank You Revolution.”  I’ve talked about this before.  Matt McWilliams started the Thank You Revolution a couple of years ago.  As part of the revolution, he encourages others to write at least once thank you note every week (typically on Thursday).  For more information on how to join the TYR (Thank You Revolution), click here.

What step(s) are you taking to have your best year ever?  What action(s) can you take to practice everyday gratitude?

 

All Things New

January 17, 2015 — 3 Comments

It’s a new year!  (It’s January 17th.  I can still say that, right?)

Too often we let the world pass us by.  We fall into the trap of the same-old, same-old.  We fail to notice what is new right around us.

I don’t want this to be the case for me, and I don’t want it to be the case for you either.

With this in mind, here are some of the NEW things I experienced this week:

  • The Brand You Podcast with Mike Kim
    • I’ve been reading Mike’s blog for several months, but I didn’t start listening to his podcast until this week.  Wow!  Another fantastic listen.  I tuned in to get ideas for helping my wife with her life coaching business.  I think this podcast will be helpful.
  • Restoring a backup to your Mac is easy if you know the file structure. 
    • I spent several hours Thursday night and Friday trying to restore information to our Mac from an external hard drive.  I don’t use this machine very often, so I’m not very familiar with how the Mac is set up.  Our Mac was running very slowly.  We added virus protection which found 5 or 6 pieces of malware.  We added memory.  And we wiped the machine clean.  When I went to restore the files, it appeared that the backup didn’t backup some very important documents.  After hours of trying things out myself, I took the machine to The Geek Squad at our local Best Buy.  Within minutes, Ryan (the Geek Squad member who helped me) had located the missing files on our external hard drive, and we were back in business.  Watching Ryan as he navigated around our Mac taught me some new things.
  • Networking With Purpose Live with John Corcoran, Mark Sieverkropp, and Matt McWilliams
    • I was talking to a friend the other day about building my e-mail list.  He asked me why I wanted to do this.  He didn’t think it was necessary.  When I mentioned that I would like to take my next book project up a notch, he nodded his head in agreement that a bigger e-mail list is important.  I don’t want to grow my network just to be rich and famous.  I have a purpose for wanting to get my material in the hands of a larger audience.  For this reason, I’m excited about this event coming up February 10th.  The event features three dynamic practitioners who are sure to provide great information for growing your network.  Click here to find out more and register for yourself.

These are just a few of the NEW things I experienced this week.  Now it’s your turn!

What NEW thing did you experience this week?

Ice Breaker – 5 Books

January 16, 2015 — 7 Comments

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Fridays are Ice Breaker days here on The Stretched Blog.  Before we get to this week’s question, I want to ask you to help me out by answering five questions related to short-term missions.  The survey was initially presented on the blog last week, but I understand some had trouble completing the survey on the blog.  After answering the Ice Breaker below, please click here to go directly to the survey.  It will only take a minute (I promise).

Each week on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question. The questions are designed to help us get to know each other here in The Stretched Community. I’ll provide my answer to the question here in the post, and then you can leave your response in the comments. While you’re in the comments section, see how others answered the ice breaker question.

(I’m always looking for Ice Breaker question ideas.  If you have an idea, send me an email at jon@jonstolpe.com.  If I use your question, I’ll give you credit and share your links.)

With the start of a new year comes a renewed desire to read some books.  I love hearing about books that other people are reading, and today’s question provides an opportunity to get up to speed on the latest reading trends or plans of The Stretched Community.

Question:  Name the five books you read most recently or the five books you plan to read in 2015.

My Answer:

  1. Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life by Tom Corley (Read my review by clicking here.)
  2. Redefine Rich: A New Perspective on the Good Life by Matt Ham
  3. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau
  4. Moment Maker: You Can Live Your Life or It Will Live You by Carlos Whittaker
  5. Fairness Is Overrated: And 51 Other Leadership Principles to Revolutionize Your Workplace by Tim Stevens

Answer this week’s ice breaker question by leaving a comment. I look forward to reading your response! (As always, feel free to share links.) And keep Stretching!

As a reminder, please take a minute to fill out the short-term missions survey.  To get to the survey, click here.

Joshua

Seven years ago, a mentor of mine challenged me to study the life and character of Joshua.  I’m in the process of preparing for a speaking opportunity in which I’ll have the chance to talk about leadership, delegation, and leaving a legacy.  As I’ve been putting my thoughts together for my speech, I started thinking about the leadership path of Moses and Joshua, and I was reminded of this study.  I think we can learn a lot if we take time to dive in and learn.  Here’s what I learned by studying Joshua.

Joshua was the son of Nun (Ex. 33:11, Num. 11:28) from the tribe of Ephraim (Num. 13:8). He was born in Egypt into slavery.  His name was originally Hoshea (Num. 13:16), and Moses called him Joshua which means “Savior” or “the person by whom God will save.” This name is equivalent in the Greek to “Jesus” which also means “Savior.”   He lived for approximately the first 40 years of his life in Egypt in slavery. He lived in the wilderness with the Israelites for 40 years, and he lived in The Promised Land until he died at the age of 110 (Joshua 24:29). He probably lived during the late Bronze Age around 1200 B.C.

Joshua, then called Hoshea, was the commander of the first military campaign following the exodus from Egypt against the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-16). Joshua was Moses’ right hand man. He was the only one who accompanied Moses on his visit up Mount Sinai (Ex. 24:12-13). He also was responsible for staying in the Tent of Meeting during the Israelites time in the wilderness (Ex 33:7-11). He was one of the 12 spies initially sent out to see Canaan (Num. 13:1, 8). He along with Caleb was one of the only two spies to bring back a positive report (Num. 14:6-8).

Joshua was appointed the leader of the Israelites by Moses after 40 years of mentoring in the wilderness, and he led the Israelites into the Promised Land (Deut. 31:1-8). He was also responsible for dividing up the land amongst the tribes of Israel (Joshua 13:8-21:45).

Joshua was reliable. This was obvious in the responsibilities that Moses heaped upon Joshua during his life and as he approached his death. Joshua was a strong leader. In Joshua 1:16, the Israelites committed themselves to following Joshua just as they had followed Moses. Joshua was a man of faith. Joshua’s positive report after spying in the land of Canaan provides an example of Joshua’s faith (Num. 14:6-8). Joshua stood up for what was right even if it seemed ridiculous as exemplified in the fall of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-6:27). He was dedicated to doing the right thing as was obvious through his response to Achan who disobeyed God’s instructions for the defeat of Jericho (Joshua 7:1-26). Joshua was humble before the Lord (Joshua 7:6-9; 8:30-31). He knew that God was responsible for his success and the success of the Israelites. Finally, I’m convinced that Joshua was strong and courageous. Multiple times Joshua is either told to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6,7,9) or he his encouraging the Israelites to be strong and courageous as they enter the Promised Land, and his final remarks even demonstrate this commitment to strength and courage (Joshua 23:6).

Joshua may have been a people pleaser. Despite God’s earlier instruction to completely destroy all the Canaanites, he caved into the lies and wishes of the Gibeonites and permitted them to live in the Promised Land alongside the Israelites (Joshua 9:1-27).

Overall, Joshua had a positive impact on others. He was the leader who helped the Israelites realize the promises originally given to Abraham. He led in a fair way and in a direct way.

(Obviously, Joshua had a negative impact on the Canaanites as they were almost completely destroyed by the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership.)

Joshua had a close relationship with God similar to his predecessor, Moses. Throughout the book of Joshua, it states “The Lord said to Joshua…” (Joshua 1:1; 3:7; 4:15; 5:2,9; 6:2; 7:10; 8:1; 11:6; 13:1; 20:1)

Overall, Joshua’s spiritual life seems to be fairly consistent. As indicated in the references above, he seemed to be in close communion with God. But Joshua was human, his spiritual life or connection with God seemed to be on vacation when he made the treaty with the Gibeonites. He relied on the feedback from his fellow Israelites instead of consulting with the Lord.

Joshua died at the age of 110 (which was considered the perfect age by the Egyptians – see the death of Joseph in Genesis 50:22-26). He provided a beautiful sendoff speech before he died (Joshua 23); however, he failed the Israelites by not bringing up a successor. Unlike Moses who apparently planned for what would happen when he passed on (Deut. 31:1-8), Joshua left Israel without a leader. This would soon lead to Israel’s decline and departure from God’s ways (Judges 2:10-15).

“As Josephus puts it in an editorial comment (Ant. 3.49) which has no biblical basis, Joshua possessed five crucial qualities: He was extremely courageous, valiant in endurance of toil, highly gifted in intellect, highly gifted in speech, and distinguished for piety in worshiping God.  Again, when summarizing his qualities upon Joshua’s death (5.188), Josephus singles out four qualities – his supreme intelligence, his supreme skill in speaking lucidly to the multitude, his stout-heartedness and great daring, and his utmost dexterity in directing affairs in peacetime and his adaptability to every occasion.” (Feldman, Louis H. “Josephus’s Portrait of Joshua.” The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 82, No. 4 (Oct., 1989), pp. 351-376.)

Joshua, the son of Nun, from the tribe of Ephraim, was a military commander of the Israelites, faithful servant and apprentice of Moses, consistent leader of the Israelites, and a humble and faithful servant of the Lord. He left Egypt along with the rest of the Israelites after years of slavery, and he entered the wilderness with an anticipation of the Promised Land like few others. He patiently served the Israelite nation for 40 years as the right hand man of Moses. He succeeded Moses, as the leader of Israel, and he deliberately led the people of Israel into the land of Canaan destroying the Canaanites and establishing Israel in the land that had been promised to them through Abraham. He followed God’s commands directly revealed to him and directed to him through Moses and the Law of Moses.

5 Lessons I Learned By Studying The Life of Joshua

I have learned several things by studying Joshua.

  1. Leadership development takes time. Moses mentored Joshua for 40 years in the wilderness before Joshua took over.
  2. Developing leaders is important in continuing the legacy. Moses did an excellent job of this, but Joshua perhaps missed the boat on this by not bringing up a successor.
  3. Doing the right thing and standing up for it is always best.
  4. Keeping a positive attitude is essential to successful leadership.
    • Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. I Corinthians 9:24
    • Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
    • I believe this is the kind of attitude that Joshua had as he approached the Promised Land, and I believe that we as followers of Christ and as leaders need to have this attitude as we seek to fully follow Christ.
  5. Keep God first in everything.  Joshua did this through most of his leadership, and God caused him to succeed.  Whether or not we succeed in man’s eyes, we as leaders need to keep God first in everything.

I’m glad I looked back at my notes.

What else do you think we could learn from Joshua?

If you could ask Joshua one question, what would you ask him?