How To Get Involved At A Higher Level Part I
I believe that no matter if you are looking for greater opportunity at a job, trying to be used at a larger capacity within a church, or looking to do something that will stretch your leadership potential in college, there are certain things that you can do to thrive and be offered the opportunities of your dreams. Having been a student of a leadership college who had sought such opportunities, I was able to observe the differences between those who thrived and those who did not get the opportunities they could have. So here are some simple bits of advice that will help you flourish anywhere you are looking to move forward in.
Use What is in Your Hand to Build What is in Your Heart
It all starts with you! It is vital to know your talents, your strengths, your resources, and your passions; then have a heart to serve. It needs to be decided that whether you have a lot to give or just a little, you will give it a go, you will give it all that you have, and you will seek to build the things you are most passionate about. It is amazing seeing students at JRLC who jump in with both feet. One student in particular that came in did not know really anything or anyone. He just wanted to build the organization by serving, even if he did not have everything figured out. Within a month or so, his heart to serve opened the doors to an internship with one of the executive leaders at James River Church. Now he is being used at a capacity he would not have ever thought possible.
Narrow Your Options
Sometimes you need to grow your ‘no’ in order to bless your ‘yes’. The secret to high capacity opportunity is focusing on the few. In The Discipline of Market Leaders, they talk about how narrowing your focus allows you to take ground in a specific field. The same is true when applied to opportunity. When you say ‘yes’ to too much too quickly, you are spread too thin and can cause more harm than help. As my father has said to me, “You can do 10 things poorly or 1-2 things really well.” His statement caused me to drop several commitments in order to focus on the ones that I really cared about. As a result, my leader gave me first choice on upcoming projects, as well as opportunities that have shaped the way I lead and think today.
You have to be present to win. A leader is not going to come to your door and ask you to be on their team. It is the people who have opened their availability and made it easy for a leader to approach them who are getting the chance to be a part of something incredible. We have had students who choose to do their school work right in front of the team offices instead of at home or a coffee shop. What that has done is opened the doors for them to be a part of amazing projects that came to them simply because they were around. Being present and having time available to help seems so basic; however, to a leader, willingness and availability are indispensable traits for a team member to have.
Live by Maximums, not Minimums
When I first started Higher Education overseas, I would do exactly what my professors asked of me, I met all the requirements, and I handed the projects in on time. Expecting great marks on my assignments, I was sadly let down when I saw mediocre grades on my work. When I asked why my marks were so poor when I had done everything they asked, it was because meeting requirements is the baseline for passing, not the standard for excelling. The same is true in a work environment. Leaders dream to have the person who shows up early and stays late, who recognizes organizational needs and fills those needs without being asked, who goes the extra mile when no one else is, who does the most you can instead of most of what you are asked. It is the people who live by maximums that are maximizing on opportunity.
Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate
Communication is one of the foremost important attributes a leader looks for in a person. One student that is joining my team in the spring has done an incredible job of keeping me informed of how far along projects are, what issues are coming up, how they are working around them, when I can expect them to be done, and even asking me whether or not I received the finished product. Now that is effective communication! This level of communication allowed me to have full confidence in him, which has led to an invitation to join my team. Communication is critical and what is more critical is it builds trust and assurance between you and whoever you are working for.1