When you get a new job and step into a new position, one of the greatest temptations is to feel the need to prove yourself. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to prove to everyone around you why you were chosen for the position. And while you absolutely should feel confident in your new role because they did choose you for it, there is also another crucial element to your initial and long-term success. In fact, there are three things you can do to set not only yourself up for success, but also set up those around you for success, and create the kind of culture you hope to establish in your new role.
The first time someone asked me if I was going to go into ministry, I literally laughed out loud and confidently shook my head and said, “no.” I had just spoken to my home congregation of 5,000 over two days and three services having just come home from spending time visiting our sister church in rural Tanzania. In fact, the first time I spoke to an audience that wasn’t in a classroom setting (aka that wasn’t part of a school assignment) was while I was in that rural Tanzanian village. I was 21 and had an interpreter next to me translating my message into Swahili. I couldn’t have articulated it then, but I now know that I didn’t think I would be a good fit for ministry because truthfully, I didn’t see examples of women like myself in leadership roles.
Fast forward five years and a Master’s Degree in Teaching later. I turned down what would have been an incredibly well-paying job because, even though I would have been good at it, I knew my heart just wasn’t in it. And instead, I found myself walking out of my job at the Minnesota State Capitol and heading to an interview for a job as a Youth Pastor.
As people, products, and services move around the world at increasingly faster rates, there’s a greater demand than ever for effective global leaders. As with anything in leadership, being and becoming a global leader is a process, not a destination. Like leadership in general, effective global leaders are made not born. So, what makes a global leader effective? And how do leaders become global leaders?
We all know that we have to avoid burnout, or deal with the eventual consequences. And, we all know as well, these consequences don’t just affect us, they affect everyone around us: our team, our personal relationships, our quality of life, our health, and so much more.
When I was burning the candle on both ends, I could do it for a few weeks and then I’d inevitably get sick and be laid up for a week. Then the cycle would repeat itself. And believe me, I was trying to live a healthy life by working out regularly, learning how to eat better, and sleeping well. Doing those things probably helped keep me from getting sicker than I already was, but they weren’t enough to help me avoid the inevitable burnout.
We all know the right things to do to take care of ourselves. So it isn’t so much about finding time for self-care, it’s more about making time for self-care. But how do we do that when there’s always something else to do, something else vying for our time?
We were grabbing dinner at the local open-air restaurant on a hot Tanzanian night. My Swedish friend across the table wondered aloud why the waiter had left her bottle top on our table after having opened her coke, wasn’t that rude? While a smile on his face, our Tanzanian friend nicely rested the bottle top back over the opening of her coke bottle and replied, “because now you can cover your coke and keep the bugs out.” Touché.
So often what we label as rude, weird, or annoying about the actions and behaviors of people from different cultures is simply different. When we understand why other people do the things they do, more often than not it makes total sense.
When I work with people traveling internationally, one of the biggest limiting beliefs they have to overcome is “my culture is right, theirs is wrong.”