Weekly Thought – September 10, 2019
Fred fielded the question “how do you define success” often. He surprised many when he did not limit it to financial accumulation. He challenged the questioner to look at the full range. And he pushed them to expand their own expectations. One of his favorite definitions: “The measurement of success is simply the ratio of talents used to talents received.”
Please pray for our Christian colleges and universities. In these opening days of the new semester many are welcoming new Presidents, new students, and new campus themes. They need our prayers. If you would like to pray monthly for them sign up for the Prayer Network email which leads in prayer requests and a Biblical exhortation.
Giving permission to others to succeed is more than encouragement. I believe only a person in authority can give convincing permission. Encouragement can come from a wide group of sources; permission to succeed comes from an authority figure – parent, boss, pastor, mentor, for example. Such permission dispels doubt and gives assurance.
Many years ago I spoke at Baylor University and met a young woman with unusual character and ability. Toward the end of my stay I told her, “I believe you can do almost anything you want to do.” She became a missionary.
Thirty years later she called me. “I’m back in the States,” she said, “and I want you to know when the going really got rough in Japan, I would say to myself, “I know there’s a fat businessman back in the States who believes in me.” She continued, “that sustained me many times – just hearing your belief.”
All I had said was one simple sentence. The difference is that it was more than encouragement because she saw me as a business leader, an authority figure. She accepted my words as permission to succeed.
Experiences like this have taught me it’s not only a leader’s privilege, but also a responsibility, to give others permission to succeed. According to experts, a manager’s number one responsibility is to establish a vision for the organization. One of the ways you establish the vision is to give people a belief in what they can do.
What is the alternative? If you don’t give people permission to succeed you draw artificial boundaries for them. In effect you are saying, “I am building a fence around your abilities – and you cannot go farther than these limits.” PBS recently featured a documentary on children who grow up in negative environments with constant verbal abuse. Most of them grow up to live mediocre, even criminal, lives.
As a leader it is my great opportunity to say, “You have permission to succeed, provided you succeed correctly, by using the right principles in the right way in the right time.” Recognizing talents and gifts in people before they do is one of the great thrills of leadership. Giving them permission to develop them is the responsibility of leadership.
After a focus week on a Christian campus, a student came up to me. In a quiet voice she said, “You spoke life to me. Thank you.” I may never know the direction of her life, but I am grateful for the privilege of lighting a spark.
Give others the permission to succeed. You never know when you may be unlocking the door.
This week think about: 1) Who gave me permission to succeed? 2) How can I lead with this mindset? 3) What will it take to make this part of my organization’s culture?
Words of Wisdom: “The measurement of success is the ratio of talents used to talents received.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Saul replied to David, ‘May you be rewarded, my son David! You will without question be successful!’ So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.” (1 Samuel 26:25 NET Bible)