When it comes to leadership and getting things done, I’ve learned a lot from the wise Jethro. No, not from The Beverly Hillbillies. But Jethro, as in Moses’s father-in-law in the Old Testament. In Exodus 18, Moses was rewarded for leading the Israelites out of Egypt with a constant flow of people coming to him day and night with issues to resolve. (Can you imagine listening to problems and arguments from morning to night?!) His father-in-law knew how this would wear him down, and finally pulled him aside and confronted him.
I’ll take great theatrical liberty here, but he basically asks Moses, “What are you thinking? You can’t do this all on your own. You’re going to burn yourself out. Train a few people how to do the things that you’re juggling (and to do them well) and then step back and let them do the job! They can come to you if they have questions or need help with the tasks.”
No intelligent man goes against the advice of his father-in-law, so he put these things all into action and reaped the benefits! Jethro teaches us three lessons in this story. Three things all leaders need to learn how to do are:
1. Be able to recognize, listen to and act on wise counsel.
2. Delegate work and decisions to others.
3. Mentor others to grow as well
The first on this list comes easily for me. I actively seek out counsel when I need it and am happy to apply what they teach. I’m a words girl, and numbers give me migraines. So, when our financial advisor shoots us an email suggesting some changes, I’m happy to hear her advice. Of course, part of this process is vetting the people you let into that you give your ear to. While it’s not necessary that every person you hire be Christian, it is important that you trust their values and know that they’ll support you in living according to yours.
Step two is where my greatest growth opportunity resides! I admit that when it comes to my professional life, I’m a bit of a perfectionist at heart. (And a work still in progress, thankfully.) This need to please almost always also means being a bit of a control freak. I admittedly have a hard time letting go of my tasks and entrusting them to someone else. But just as Moses learned, doing it “all” can wear a person out quick! And worn-down, burnt-out humans certainly do not perform at their peak for long.
"We accomplish all that we do through delegation
--either to time or to other people."
~Stephen R. Covey
I recently spent six months working with two business coaches, evaluating my business model, and making adjustments so that the systems and offerings I have are sustainable and scalable. It didn’t take these two wise women long to point out that I was doing too much. They gave me the assignment of making a list of all the tasks I was doing on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and then addressed each of my well-thought-out rationales (AKA excuses and lies I was believing) as to why I was the only person who could do those tasks, and how I could not afford to hire them out.
I’ve since studied the topic while asking myself, “What if delegating tasks was not only possible but was the key to being able to help more women live the lives they were created for?” I’ve since learned two connected lessons:
Delegating doesn’t always have to cost money. What do you have to offer, and who do you know who offers what you need? How could you barter with someone so you both get something you value? (Since I’d rather be coaching than cleaning, I’d love to find someone to exchange services with!) In addition, it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Hiring a teen to the things that must be done, but aren’t the best use of your time, is a great solution. They make some extra cash, and so do you—because you’re diverting that time to your business or areas that will get you “more bang for your buck” (as grandma used to say!).
Time is money…or money can buy time. Think of this through the lens of seeking out a high ROI (return on investment). If you can make $50/hour doing a “side job” that you enjoy, would you pay someone $20/hr to grocery shop for you while you’re doing what you love?
Thankfully, the challenge of delegation comes with a gift: the opportunity to mentor others. “Paying it forward” is one of the most enjoyable part of being a leader. (And let’s face it, we’re all leaders in some way!) Whether you’re paying someone to do the work, or training someone through an internship, sharing the lessons you’ve learned and encouraging others to learn & grow is a win-win solution. They gain from your knowledge, you gain from their fresh perspective, but also because the process of delegating and mentoring bring new lessons with them.
Seeking wise counsel, delegating to others and mentoring them along the way becomes an elevating paradigm where we rise up with generations on both sides of us. I’m intrigued by cultures that honor their elders and cultivate cultures of community. By incorporating these three habits into our lives, we experience gains that go beyond the financial.
Here are some things you can consider to 3X your contribution:
What tasks do you do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis?
Who do you know who does these things well?
How can you learn from that person?
What do you know and have to offer?
Who would benefit from learning those things?
How can you trade services or who could you pay to complete those tasks?
How can you “pay it forward,” to multiply your knowledge and double the work of your hands?
Want help to take a look at the bottle-necks in your systems?
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