“It’s not what you know but who you know that counts” is one of those maxims that can be difficult to swallow, especially for those of us who value performance over politics. But reality is there’s a kernel of truth in this maxim, especially when thinking about it in terms of relationships instead of politics.
You see relationships do matter, and more often than not they’re the tipping point in any given situation or decision. Healthy relationships, whether personal or professional, will always carry the day – even in those moments when everything falls apart.
And relationships are not only good at saving the day, they’re also essential in building teams that can accomplish extraordinary things. Very rarely has history changing ideas, projects or efforts been accomplished solo. Almost always, great moments have been created by teams of people working in the context of personal, loving and caring relationships.
So what does it take to create healthy relationships? There’s two simple ingredients:
And to be known!
Teddy Roosevelt once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Relationships require knowing others, who they are, what’s important to them, their history, their stories, and how we can assist them and their goals. Relationships require us think of others first, so see the world through their eyes, and in the end, simply and deeply, “to know” the other person(s).
Healthy and meaningful relationships also require us “to be known”. Allowing others to see into our lives, to know our thoughts, hopes and dreams. To be known in this way is foundational to building the kind of relationships necessary for teams that change the world. Without transparency, there’s no possibility of trust. Without trust there’s no true relationship. Where there’s no true relationship, there’s no team or community. And where there’s no team or community, the possibility of world changing actions diminishes to almost zero.
So I’m recommending a new maxim. Instead of saying “It’s not what you know but who you know that counts”, we should say “it’s not what you know but who you deeply know and are known by that will make all the difference.”
Back in 1985 evangelist, teacher, and leader, John Stott, gave four messages to the staff of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students in Quito, Ecuador. Thankfully Inter Varsity Press recently published these messages in a 95 page book titled The Problems of Christian Leadership.
As a reader of many of the Stott’s books I wasted no time in picking this one up and diving in. I was not disappointed. Stott address four common problems, or challenges, Christian leaders face in their work –
The Problem of Discouragement
The Problem of Self-Discipline
The Problem of Relationships
The Problem of Youth
Though I must admit, before I started the book, I wondered if these four problems were still the most pressing challenges facing Christian leaders today. But as I read and reflected on my leadership experience as well as those of others, I realized these issues are as real today as they were 30 years ago.
But the best part of Stott’s teaching isn’t just identifying these seemingly timeless problems it’s in the wisdom and practical advice he brings to each. The book is simply a leadership guide for tackling each of these four problems. For example, the reminder in the chapter titled The Problem of Self-Discipline, of the importance in making regular time away from daily work for prayer, reflection, and tasks requiring quiet and focus caused me to act. I’ve now blocked out a day a month in my calendar to make this focused time a reality.
So, if you’re looking for or in need of a solid, practical and inspiring book on authentic leadership, read The Problems of Christian Leadership. You’ll be blessed with 300 pages worth of insight and inspiration packed into a 95 page book.43.928283-85.286682
Jeremie Kubicek, President and CEO of Giant Impact, challenges us in his thoughtful book, Leadership is Dead – How Influence is Reviving It, to imagine what the effectiveness of our leadership would look like if we were truly “for others” before we were for ourselves or our organizations.
“Think about it this way: people around you are either for you, against you, or just for themselves. While there may be variations on these three motives, this concept generally holds true…
(Now) take out a sheet of paper and make a short list of the people in your life (business, home, family and so forth). Answer this question for each: ‘Is this person for me, against me, or for himself/herself?’
Revealing isn’t it? Now turn the tide. What would they say you were to them? For them, against them, or for yourself?
The reality is that the majority of people are self-centered. Rarely are people against you. It’s more that they are for themselves and totally driven by self-interest. It’s human nature. Most people I know are in survival mode day-to-day, doing whatever they can to take care of their families and their businesses and organizations. I fall into that mode, and it’s likely that you do too.
What would happen, though if you intentionally demonstrated that you were for the people on this list? You would see amazing changes transpire in the lives of those around you if they knew you were invested in their success as well as your own.
Imagine yourself becoming so significant in other people’s’ lives that you are not only memorable but also valuable to them. Imagine people believing that you want the best for them and understanding that you are for them. Imagine that they open up to you, enabling you to wield true influence and have an impact. Imagine experiencing, as a result of these things, the fulfilling relationships you’ve dreamed of at work and at home.”43.928283-85.286682
This week I had the opportunity to have lunch with Enoch and Joan Olson. Enoch is SpringHill’s Founding Director and under his leadership the vision, core principles and values of SpringHill were clearly developed, articulated and built into our organization.
I asked to have lunch with Enoch and Joan so I could hear their current perspective on SpringHill, and what they believe God could be calling SpringHill to be and do in the future. As with all my meetings with Enoch and Joan, I walked away with a some helpful and challenging thoughts.
One of the more provocative perspectives Enoch shared is his belief that SpringHill needs to continue to expand its influence in Christian camping, youth ministries and, most importantly, in the lives of young people. This led to the discussion around the question “how does a person or an organization become influential?”
Enoch provided the following insightful answers.
First, we need authority. Not authority which comes from power or position but the kind of authority that is the result of wisdom, knowledge, and depth and breadth of experience in a particular field or subject. The more authority we have in this sense, the more potential influence we can have.
Second, we need to have relationships with others. True influence comes through and in the context of relationships. We gain relationships through networking, and we build relationships through quality time. Quality time means asking lots of questions and doing even more listening. The greater the number and the depth of relationships we have, the more potential influence we can gain.
On my way back from my time with Enoch and Joan, I thought to myself, as I’m sure you’ve just thought, “Wow what a lunch. I may have just been blessed with a glimpse into SpringHill’s future.”43.928283-85.286682