Change Agent Self Mastery

Crawling Backwards

Crawling Backwards

Sarah, a Pastor friend of mine, has an 8 month old daughter. I love that age! It seems like there is something new every day for a child between 8 and 18 months old. So I asked Sarah, “What is your baby learning to do now?”


She said, “Lately she has learned how to crawl. But the funny is, she can’t crawl forward. She can only make herself go backwards. And the baby gets so frustrated! She sees what she wants; it’s right in front of her. But when she attempts to move towards it, she ends up traveling farther and farther away from what she really wants. She’s literally crawling backwards!”

That image is hilarious to me. I just picture the backwards crawl – and the frustration that it causes.

OK, maybe you see where this is going.

Over and over I have seen leaders who know where they want to go, and yet as they get into motion, they only move backwards. What is it that occasionally takes us away from where we want to be?

Here are three observations I would make about crawling backwards in our leadership:

  • Wanting to move forward is not enough. If you value moving forward and talk about it, pray about it, but never change behavior, you will move backwards. The mistakes we make are often thinking that vision is the key to movement. It is not. Vision is important, you have to see where you want to go. But until you create new behaviors, vision can be a source of frustration. I see where I want to go, but as I take action I move backwards. What new behavior is needed for you to move forward?
  • The same motion takes us forward; we just have to turn around. Sometimes the behavior we need is just a shift in how we behave. Sarah’s baby learned that if she turned around she could actually move forward. Now this is not a long-term solution for the baby, but it gets her started. Let me give you an example of this leadership principle: Imagine a leadership culture with lots of meetings that focus only on problems that need to be solved. The highly committed people in these meetings feel defeated – and in some ways discouraged – by what is happening. What if they changed how they run meetings? What if the meetings were focused primarily on vision and possibilities? They could keep the same movement (meetings) but start to go forward. So many times, we talk about the future and only take action on the present.
  • There is power in the familiar. Where we have been in the past is a known commodity. We tend to gravitate back towards the familiar, even if we don’t like the past. We need to develop a picture of what the new may look like. Many times the new destination of growth and innovation require a new frame of reference. Maybe it means taking a field trip to see how others are doing what you want to do? I know of a church that tore down its existing building so that they could start fresh with a new vision. What is the new picture that allows you to move forward?

Sarah’s baby will learn that facing forward will allow her to get where she wants to go. First she will crawl, and before you know it she will be running.

In the comments section below, tell me where you crawling backwards – and when you’ve recognized it and turned around.

Self Mastery


I hate surprises. Well hate is a strong word. Truth is, I had a surprise party gone wrong at the age of 21. Three huge guys in ski masks ran into my dorm room punched me, grabbed me, tied me up and took me to a lake where 30 people wished me a joyous day. Not the best party…
Enough of my therapy inducing past.
Have you ever noticed that in the important initiatives of your life there is often a “Surprise”? By Surprise (capital S) I mean something that is unwanted and unexpected. I’m not complaining, no, just stating a fact. The unexpected comes… and at least in my life, it’s quite often.
I think I suffer from chronic ‘best case’ thinking. I expect things to work just like I planned. Silly expectation really, because things rarely turn out as schemed. Sometimes better, but most of the time there is an unexpected obstacle. “Surprise!”

I’ve noticed that as soon as I start to experience a “Surprise” that I get totally self-absorbed. The natural inclination is just to think about ME. This obsession actually paralyzes me from moving forward.
So one of the great lessons that I have learned from my “Surprises” is actually a principle I learned from George Costanza of Seinfeld fame. His whole life was a “Surprise” so he decided to do the opposite of everything he would normally do. Even though that’s not a great lifestyle, could it be that the antidote to “Surprise” is counter intuitive? “Surprise” screams be selfish. Problem is, it doesn’t work.

Here’s the challenge for myself and anyone else who experiences a “Surprise”: When things start to unravel, GIVE. Give money, give time, give whatever away. Not only does it feel good, it actually crystallizes my thoughts back into the ability to solve my problem.

Self Mastery

My Next Level

For the past few years my friends and colleagues have been on me to start a blog. Ok… here goes. But why now? I think it has everything to do with this image.

In this simple picture I see three things that drive me forward.
1. Learning and Leading go together. What we learn needs to translate into the influence of others. Everything that has ever made a difference in someone else’s life was at some point shared learning. Why should I learn anything new and keep it to myself?
2. Learning and Leading are next to each other. They fit into the same picture. Most of the lessons I have learned over the course of my life have never really taken root until I applied it in the context of relationships with others.
3. Learning and Leading don’t happen automatically. They are like buttons that need to be pushed. On purpose.

So here is my next level: Learn… maybe like never before. In every situation where I am stuck. In every role that takes me out of comfort. In every relationship. In every opportunity… Learn. And then Lead.

Every Lesson requires Leadership. yep, that’s my next level. Could it be yours too?