I’m not old.
Neither am I young.
In this stage of life I want to be both. I want the maturity and wisdom of age and experience but I want to cling to the energy and idealism of youth. I want to believe my ideas are still new and innovative. In fact perhaps the greatest danger of this season is in both believing I still have great ideas but also the wisdom of experience.
A recipe for dangerous pride.
It’s not impossible to both have great ideas and the wisdom of experience. It’s just dangerous to assume you have both because of this stage of life.
This is the “I know enough to be dangerous” stage of leadership. I’ve circled the leadership block enough times for the scenery to be familiar. I know this block well. I know the twists and turns of the road. I know where the potholes are. I’m confident to direct others who join me.
But at this stage of life and leadership, it’s time for my territory to expand. Perhaps I haven’t been paying attention to the new construction and how it’s changing traffic patterns. Are there new roadways that now connect to my block that I haven’t been exploring?
Before I exhaust the metaphor completely…
What I’m learning about this season of leadership is that it’s easy to get comfortable with where we grew up as leaders. We have ideas, systems, and filters for decision-making that are common and comfortable. If we choose to stay only with this set of experiences we will limit ourselves. We will be inclined to reject new or different ideas. We will pridefully rely on what we know. It worked for us in the past so we’re convinced it will work in the future.
The danger is that the landscape is changing whether you’re exploring it or not. You must listen to new voices. You must challenge yourself to consider new ideas. It’s uncomfortable. It’s stretching. It batters your confidence.
But our ability to continue to grow as leaders is contingent on our ability to keep ourselves slightly uncomfortable. It’s in the discomfort where we continue to learn and grow.
Are you in an uncomfortable season of leadership? What are you learning from it?