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Leadership in the Harbor

We help our clients train “in the Harbor (a safe environment) before heading out to the big body of water—the world.

Here at the Harbor, we’ve now completed several weeks of doing Minis—the one-hour, no-preparation (on your part) lunch-and-learn masterminds. Kris and I are enjoying these, and we’ve had great participant response as well. In late July, we took off one day from the Minis because we had our own “minis” to celebrate. We became first (and second-time) grandparents when our oldest daughter and “favorite” (only) son-in-law had their first children, twin daughters.

The event has given me reason to reflect, and I’d like to share a story—my story. I have always been a reader and a student of leadership practices. I thought that learning these would give me a leg up in my career. It did, but not exactly as I expected.

Brian’s Personal Story

When I graduated, I thought going to work for a large Fortune 500 company would be going to work for a “model” company. I eventually realized that I was a little gullible as I believed … and believed … and believed that those at the top knew what they were doing. Sometimes, as people get to the “top,” they think that they have all the answers. They don’t look for the value others can bring to the table, no matter their position. In my perspective, we were a decent company but not really outstanding. I wanted to be a part of an outstanding team, but I didn’t know how to get there from where I was. I had a few different roles over the first 12 years, but mostly I felt like I was “following” along. Then I got my first big raise and a title change. Is it really a promotion to not be called “entry level” any longer? This new position had a title in which a person could remain the rest of their career. Not very encouraging for one who wanted to make a much bigger impact.

I was not being challenged and didn’t know how to approach my manager about it. I felt stagnate. There was a lot of management but very little leadership. In my search for more, I went looking for new employment. I thought I was close to changing jobs, except the terrorist attack on 9/11 happened. The world became uncertain, and opportunities changed. Shortly thereafter, a dear friend gave me information about becoming a certified lay pastor. This led to two years training, two years of occasional pulpit supply (i.e., filling in for a pastor on vacation and giving the sermon), and nearly nine years commissioned to serve as a pastor for a specific church. I began this phase on my leadership life with a simple thought—to serve a church as its pastor. It was so much more! I grew immensely in my biblical knowledge, my faith, and my comfort level speaking to groups, but even more, this process taught me so much about people and about myself.

Remember, I hadn’t had a real promotion in the first 12 years working as an engineer. From the time I started the personal growth process to becoming a pastor, throughout the next 12 years, I received two real promotions—to which I attribute mostly to getting up in front of people and leading them administratively. I wanted to become a better equipper and lead more than just administratively, so I got involved with the John Maxwell Team (JMT) and made a significant investment in my personal growth (double that since Kris and I both invested in JMT). That’s like learning and applying leadership on steroids. Soon after I became certified in leadership development coaching and training, I realized that if I wanted to effect a change in my corporate environment, I had to take action. Over the next three years, I led 14 masterminds at the engineering company. I grew where I was planted and began offering the opportunity to help others grow through mastermind groups. Slowly but surely, the culture is changing. This type of stepping up has allowed me to be selected to lead a new entrepreneurial role.

As I stated in the beginning, the results were not exactly as expected. I really expected that doing my job well, working hard, and reading about leadership would prepare me for the opportunities I desired. Developing my leadership skills has paid off. When the opportunity presented itself for me to step up to effect change, I was ready. Leadership develops daily—not in a day. Each step in my story, I invested more in my personal development. When I began being intentional about it and found mentors and coaches to help me, my abilities—and opportunities—increased by leaps and bounds. I was ready.

I don’t tell you this just to talk about myself. I share this because I was once wandering. If I can help someone else to find their way, I have done what I’ve been called to do.

Remember, you are not a tree. If you don’t like what’s going on, change it or move.

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