What are the main elements of how we appear when we are “at our best?”

Last week I wrote briefly “On Your Best Day…” about how we should exhibit two important attributes:

  • Be Hungry
  • Take the Initiative

 
I believe there are two more very important elements of how to be “our best” each day and make the most of life in the midst of your daily grind.

  • Be Attentive to others

 
We all have so much on our plate that we’re constantly thinking about what we need to accomplish or say, and even when we don’t we believe somehow we have to appear that way in order to keep up our image! But we learn and work so much more effectively when we notice others and value them by conversing and asking them questions, as we really listening to them. I’ve been rightly accused of “waiting to speak” rather than listening, and we all know how that feels to the other person — not good!

Daniel Goleman wrote about Emotional Intelligence back in 1995 which he describes as three important attributes we all need to be our best self.

  • self-awareness
  • self-regulation
  • empathy

 
To understand how we come across to others is so helpful. Do you have someone who honestly holds a mirror up to you so you can see how you look in the midst of your responsibilities and speak candidly. We are blind to so much about ourselves without this. If we learn how we come across, can we regulate our negative vibes towards others so that we work more smoothly with them? Relationships are so important in every area of life, including our business and ministry. Even more important than our cognitive abilities. Also, our ability to get to know the people around us so we can put ourselves in their place and attempt to feel what they fell is empathy. Now, whether this is cultural or simply other’s position or state of life does not matter, we need to be empathetic towards others so as to grasp what is most important to their work and values so they can be at their best self as well.

It is interesting, that the most influential leaders in our world have very high EQ rather than IQ. Their emotional intelligence is what made them influential and advanced them to their present status rather than just being super smart.

Being culturally intelligence and learning about others who are not like us is vital. We do this by being a friend and showing genuine interest in them without being judgmental due to our cultural biases. God created a world which is filled with diversity and the wonder of discovery is for those who are courageous and not ethnocentric. Learning about others helps us have meaningful relationships which enrich both of us in the relationship.

In the Scriptures, the Apostle Paul was travelling in the Ancient Near East sharing the gospel and he added a young man named Timothy to his team (Acts 16). Timothy was both Greek and Jewish, and probably raised by a single mom. According to the traditional Jewish law, he was unfit and not qualified to be a leader, and Paul knew this. But he was included, trained, and became a man who represented Paul to the many nationalities which he ministered to. In fact at the end of his life Paul writes to the believers in Philippi, that “he has no one like him who cares for your welfare… (Phil. 2:19,20). He had cultural and emotional intelligence and for that purpose he was highly praised for his attentiveness to others.

  • Be Humble

 
If you are a leader or team player always share the credit for success, and assume responsibility for challenges or mistakes. Jim Collins study in Good to Great (2001) concluded that the highest level of leader in the most successful organizations studied were passionate driven to fulfill their mission, and secondly, humble. What a great combination of leadership skills! The leaders were not ruthless egomaniacs, rather they were people who appreciated the other leaders, teams, and God above for where they were. They were not individuals who were driven by the agenda of personal advancement, but who ended up where they were through selfless service to a cause or organization.

Each of us need to be comfortable with how God has made us. It is really tiring trying to be someone we are not. It isn’t natural and we long to be ourselves. A servant leader is humble and concerned about the welfare of others. These leaders see themselves as stewards of God’s grace and in the position they are in as accountable to God and others.

Patrick Lencioni’s latest book The Ideal Team Player (2016) does a wonderful job of explaining what it takes to be someone we all desire to work with. He states the ideal team player is hunger, humble, and smart. Lencioni describes “smarts” as social skills and ability to connect with people.

The Bible describes so many influential people who exhibited humility. Moses and John the Baptist are both specifically referred to as extremely humble in the Scriptures. Jesus Christ himself exhibited humility in an amazing way and yet is the most influential figure in human history.

These last two attributes overlap and complement each other greatly. If we are humble, we will be more apt to pay attention to others and value them. On your best day you are connected with others rather than self-seeking. You can still take the initiative and be hungry. Be hungry to care about others and take the initiative to get to know them so that they might succeed at the role they play in your organization. As you humbly lead others will be attracted to participate and you’ll be amazed how that makes your day the best!

A focus on these four elements in your leadership can make a big difference in moving you towards being at your best a lot more often. To lay down at night exhausted from the activity of the day and quietly realizing you were at your best is a great feeling. Approach tomorrow with that thought in mind and make it your best day ever!

Ken B. Kemper