Leading those we love into the unfamiliar is a necessary challenge. We can’t climb higher, go further, or discover new possibilities unless we move into the unfamiliar.
I married a coffee snob. Having spent a few years becoming accustomed to the strong European brews in Belgium, Folgers just doesn’t cut it for her. Donna and I have only been married for several months (a thumbnail of our story) and before, when I needed coffee, I always bought a big red can of Folgers regular and a smaller green can of decaf. My coffee life now consists of beans, grinders, French presses, and insulated carafes.
I gradually acquired a taste for the richer and stronger brews. Now, a Folgers Mr. coffeeish brew tastes a bit like caffeinated mud. No offense to anyone, I know it’s a matter of taste, but mine have changed!
Coffee is not consequential to our life purposes, at least not usually, but learning to move into the unfamiliar is necessary. We have to regularly stretch, try new things, explore new opportunities, and attempt uncomfortable things or we will keep getting status quo results. To lift to a new place in life we have to walk through unfamiliar doors.
When moving into unfamiliar territory we usually question the cost and necessity of the move. Leadership is about prompting, coaching, mentoring, and generally leading people to move into the unfamiliar. If those we love and lead are happy with their current “brew”, why bother?
We need people in our lives who will challenge us to embrace the unfamiliar. We need people who have discovered things of which we are not yet aware. Our relationships prompt our growth in this way.
I need relationships in my life who will reach for me and pull me to a place I did not know existed.
How do we step into a necessary “unfamiliar” and how do help those we love and lead move out of their comfort zone?
- Encourage new adventures
- Encourage new thinking
- Encourage new decisions
- Encourage new outcomes
Encourage New Adventures
Intentionally seek out things you’ve never done. Try a new coffee you’ve never tried before. Eat something you’ve never eaten before. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Read a book in a genre you usually don’t read. Try something new that puts you in proximity with new people and new perspectives. You never know where you will find a perspective or insight that will change something in you that opens a door to a new level.
Action plan: What one thing, large or small, will you do today that you’ve never done before?
New adventures establish a pattern in our lives. Every time we stretch our comfort zone it gets a little easier. Little adventures are pre-requisites for life-changing adventures. It is a journey!
Encourage New Thinking
As I write this I am taking a few days in the Smoky Mountains to reflect and rest. Staying high on a mountain, this morning a cloud filled the valley and sunshine drenched the peaks sticking out of the fog. I thought about the people in the town below experiencing a foggy morning while we experienced a beautiful sunshiny morning.
Our vantage point gives us a different perspective. Encourage thinking that looks at things from different angles. We tend to only seek to deepen our own perspectives and we can sometimes fail to listen to other perspectives that may at least give us insight. When we insulate ourselves and shut out everyone else with a different perspective, then we lose perspective into why they think like they do. At very least, I cannot influence someone if I do not understand their world view.
If you are a leader, or an emerging leader, read a book that you don’t agree with, listen to some news feeds that make you angry, converse with someone who believes something you think is wrong thinking. It might give you an important insight.
Encourage New Decisions
Deferring a decision is a decision. When we refuse to make decisions we stay in the same place, in the same circumstances. We need to give those we love and lead tools to make better decisions.
Discuss examples of how you made tough decisions. Ask others how they came to make life changing decisions. Listen for patterns and insights.
We need to put ourselves in decision-making situations. As a leader, put those you love and lead in decision-making situations under your guidance to prepare them for a future of decision-making. Encourage them to make decisions.
Encourage New Outcomes
We must connect the things we try, reach for, or decide today to the outcomes we desire tomorrow. What are our hopes, our dreams, and our purpose? What are we passionate about? What is God saying to us through revelation, impressions, and divine circumstance?
Moving into our dreams, our passions, our hopes, and our purpose involves stepping into the water, trying new things, gaining new insights, and moving in new directions.
I was happy with the coffee I drank every morning –and it was much cheaper! But I am happier with the experiences I now have with a much more quality brew. It is fun to look for unique coffee shops and try new brews. It is fun to grind the coffee to just the right consistency for the French press. It is fun to try to get the next cup just right. I’ve found something new that makes life a bit more interesting.
The unfamiliar is often uncomfortable, but it is one of the gateways to a next-level life.
Try something new today! Pull the trigger on something you’ve been thinking about for a long time! Go ahead, shell out a few bucks for an exotic brew…it might just change your life!
Question: What are you going to try today that you’ve never tried before?