I’ve been exploring healthy leadership for years. I’ve read books, journals, attended seminars and trainings. I regularly visit with an executive coach. And one concept keeps coming to the surface: the sweet spot. The sweet spot is that place, role, responsibility where you come most alive and excel. It’s where gifts and abilities coalesce and you have fun. It’s where the line between work and play disappear.
Finding that place is no easy task. It has taken me 20 years, at least, to find where it is…and where it isn’t. And it is so precious that I don’t think I should actually talk about the specifics other than that I know when I’m in it and I know when I’m not. I have taken a lot of assessment tools and found those areas where I don’t belong (and the staff and leaders around me readily agree with where I don’t excel!).
One of the skills I’m learning about the sweet spot is that the other areas still need attention. So I’m trying to staff my shadow-sides…those areas where I am not very strong with people who excel in those areas I don’t. Slowly I have discovered some wonderful relationships with persons who delight to step in to my weaker areas and give support (financial detail and numeric precision is one such area).
However, staying in the sweet spot does not just happen. It requires saying “no” to other intriguing and interesting areas. It means saying “no” to the advice and suggestion from good friends to trying some new thing or expanding into a new area. What do I mean? In practical terms for me, it meant saying “no’ to joining an interesting committee. It meant saying “no” to participating in a seminar that was very good, but would take me away from what I primarily do well. It also means saying “no” to myself when I want to jump into a discussion about something for which I do not have primary responsibility…lots of ideas…but not central to my calling and giftedness. For I have found that when I weigh into an area as senior pastor, others far more qualified than I am, will be silent and defer to me positionally. But when I am silent, then they have permission to step in with their much better ideas.
So, this morning in the rain, I am saying “no” to a bunch of swirling activities here in the church, all of which are fun and exciting, so that I might pray and spend time with the sermon for Sunday.