The Journey of Everyday Leadership


May 2018

Three Killer P’s

Psychologist Martin Seligman has identified three P’s that can stunt our recovery from loss and undercut our resilience as human beings. These P’s sometimes come into play when we experience trauma or loss. Grief opens the door to these soul-sapping P’s. But these P’s also threaten leaders who experience failure or setback.

Three P'sPersonalization — the belief that we are wholly and solely to blame for a failure or setback (“It’s all my fault; it wouldn’t have happened if I had been more attentive, more present, more intuitive, more something”).

Pervasiveness — the belief that a particular failure will affect all areas of our lives and ruin everything (“This ruins everything; my relationships, my reputation, my family, my finances”).

Permanence — the belief that a failure or setback will last forever (“I’ll never recover; I’ll feel this way till the day I die”).

In her compelling book on facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy Sheryl Sandberg (Option B, p.16) notes that “Hundreds of studies have shown that children and adults recover more quickly when they realize that hardships aren’t entirely their fault, don’t affect every aspect of their lives, and won’t follow them everywhere forever.”

Many leaders find their effectiveness thwarted and their joy diminished because these P’s have assumed gargantuan proportions or have set up residence in their thinking.

Of course, leaders do take responsibility for their failures. They should. But a failure, loss, or set-back usually also involves complex factors beyond our ability to fully manage or control. Similarly, major bungles will indeed cast wider ripples of impact. But we usually have choices about how far those ripples flow. Finally, the words “never” and “forever” reflect a defeated spirit (at least for the moment) but not the reality of life. Second chances abound.

Have these P’s been knocking on your door?

Sometimes it’s our very fear of the P’s that might stifle our innovation and creativity; fear of the P’s that quenches our courage and diminishes our vision.

Personalization. Pervasiveness. Permanence.

When we yield to these fiends that whisper threats to our souls, we retreat from life itself. If you are grappling with grief, don’t hold hands with these three P’s. If you are facing failure, look these three P’s in the eye and move them from center-stage. They are not good friends.

Resilience is the great hallmark of faith. We recover and we endure — with joy — because we know that the loss of the moment is neither fully our fault, inescapably universal, nor ultimately perpetual. The grace of Christ sustains us, heals us, restores us, and renews us.

Friday Quote

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

In my reading of the Gospels, Jesus was always lifting His hearers to a higher level of seeing.  Sometimes they understood, sometimes they didn’t quite get it. But still, He persisted.

Find someone to lift with your words this weekend!


Commending Others

We’d all agree that building leaders takes time. However, we might not all agree on the process. Let me give you one perspective that I learned in the military, and in my reading of Scripture.

During my military career, I received medals of commendation for service rendered. The official Letter of Commendation always included two elements: a brief description of why the member was noteworthy for a particular service rendered, and the start and end date of the service rendered.

These letters (accompanied by a medal) consistently ended with something along the lines:

“Chaplain Nichols’ personal initiative and unswerving devotion to duty reflected credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Air Force.”

Quite honestly, I never felt I had lived up to the highest traditions of the military. Notice however, there was no suggestion that my training was over. Rather, the commendation implied that I was simply on track in my leadership development.

In a similar light, the Apostle Paul gave two of his key leaders public commendations. I am speaking of Timothy and Titus.Medal

They both labored as Paul’s co-workers (Rom. 16:21; 2 Cor. 8:23), and he had enough confidence in them to be his personal delegates (1 Cor. 4:17; 2 Cor. 12:18). Both served as capable evangelists in areas where false teachers had to be confronted and the local church more firmly established and organized (1 Tim. 1:2-3; Tit. 1:4-5).

However, it seems that Timothy needed elaborate commendations from Paul (1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10-11; Phil. 2:19-24; 1 Thess. 3:2), probably to help bolster his confidence and promote acceptance and respect. The Corinthians were instructed, “If Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear… let no one despise him” (1 Cor. 16:10-11). Timothy himself was urged, “Let no one despise your youth…” (1 Tim. 4:12), “Use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities” (1 Tim. 5:23); and “God has not given us a spirit of fear [timidity]… Therefore do not be ashamed …” (2 Tim. 1:7-8).

Titus, on the other hand, was apparently just the opposite. Titus did not need such detailed commendations.

As leaders, we must not only lead well, but ultimately raise up other leaders. This takes time. More importantly, it takes individualized consideration (empathy) to bring out the best in others.

It was expected that a military member would receive several commendation medals by the end of their career. In fact, if a member lacked a certain quantity of medals, his or her direct report was not doing their job.

The point is, leaders nurture and bring along other leaders. They commend them to others.

Whom in your family, or sphere of leadership influence, might you commend today? They do not need to be perfect, but they may need your commendation in order to continue toward building leadership confidence.


Dennis Nichols is Lead Faculty for the Master of Arts in Leadership degree at William Jessup University, Rocklin, CA.


The Bottom Line

Business leaders have long talked about “the bottom line.”

In for-profit ventures, increasing shareholder wealth reigns supreme. Money is the ultimate end, and “time is money”.

You have probably also heard of the double-bottom-line principle. Not only should a company increase wealth, but a greater societal good should be the aim. Chic-fil-a is a great example. While they are committed to making great chicken sandwiches (and delicious sauces!), they also pursue numerous avenues to better their communities and serve people.

What about a triple-bottom-line? Yes – such a thing exists. Here – making money and accomplishing a greater good are important, but a third metric shapes this organization’s goals. It must employ practices that sustain the environment, or at least not make it worse. This ethic has emerged as an increasing value among consumers, especially millennials.

But a quadruple-bottom-line? Let’s not get carried away!

Indeed, scholars have identified a fourth benchmark for organizations. They must not only build wealth, accomplish societal good, and engage in sustainable practices, but also pursue transformation (often spiritual) for their “customers”. In other words, people they impact should both be better off because of the organization’s mission (e.g. receive care, helpful products, etc), and be transformed in the process!

Is this goal too idealistic?

Here at Jessup Leadership – we think not. If transformational leadership is to “produce change and build lives…” as Dr. Timms recently reminded us, then those we lead, whether in for profit or nonprofit ventures, should walk away different than when they first encountered us.

How often did Jesus emulate this kind of leadership? He was frequently overheard saying to the broken, “your sins are forgiven,” or to the lame, “get up and walk!” He built lives through offering opportunities for transformational change.

My guess is, today you have some tasks you need to accomplish. In your interactions with people, is your sole aim to get what you want from people (we call this transactional leadership), or that people would become better because of your interaction with them?

Consider how you might offer an opportunity for transformation for someone you encounter today.

Daniel Gluck serves as Associate Professor and Lead Faculty for the B.A. in Christian Leadership program at Jessup.

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