This is the fifth and final post in a series about the courage that leadership requires. These principles were taken from a talk that Bill Hybels gave at the Global Leadership Summit in August 2013. Here are the links to part 1 andpart 2 and part 3 and part 4.
Recently, a high-school student named Wesley Preston who lives in Nairobi, Kenya decided to organize a 5K race to help raise money for CARE for AIDS. We invited our staff and members of the local community to come and participate. At turns out, we didn’t quite explain to our staff what was appropriate attire was for this kind of event. In true Kenyan fashion, the men showed up in slacks and loafers and the women in long skirts. But, thankfully, that did not stop them from participating and even winning. Patrick, our counselor from the Kia-ndutu center, took first prize in his loafers.
Because many of them had never run in the past, they didn’t understand how to pace themselves. They were flying on flat and downhill grades, but as soon as they hit the slightest uphill, they would all begin to walk. It was during those climbs that our American Director, Caleb Davison, was able to pass a bunch of people. Unfortunately, Caleb still finished in third place because even his good pacing couldn’t beat the Kenyan genes.
The fifth and final challenge that Bill Hybels gave to us as leaders is that we must have:
The Courage to Finish Strong
He reminded us that in the leader’s marathon, some of the most rewarding experiences happen late in the race. So, we must endure and not get discouraged by criticism, struggles with family, or organizational decline. As Andy Stanley says, “We must have the courage to stay when it is easier to go.”
For me, I hope that I am still in the first 25% of my leadership race, so when I think about the importance of finishing strong, I think about pace. That is why I shared the illustration of our staff in Kenya. When I get to the last climb in my leadership journey or any uphill battle for that matter, I want to have enough in the tank to not stop and walk or give up all together.
One way I have learned to do that was through the coaching of a good friend, Greg Salciccioli. In his book, The Enemies of Excellence, he talks about the importance of replenishing the energy that we expire. He calls it systematic renewal. He defines optimum health as, “The point in which spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical health are replenished.”
Graphic from The Enemies of Excellence by Grag Salciccioli
It is not enough to simply set one-time goals in each of these four areas. We must develop daily, weekly, and monthly routines that become part of our lives. By doing this, we constantly renew our body, mind, and soul. If we stay healthy, we can summon those bursts of energy to overcome the challenges that will arise, but if we have nothing left, we will forfeit our chance to lead because of physical limitations, relational breakdowns, or even moral failure.
Leaders, as it says in Hebrews, “continue to run the race with endurance that is set before you.”