Updated: Jun 17, 2021
"It's a bird!"
"It's a plane!"
"Actually, I don't know what it is.. but it's definitely not superman.."
Because we aren't superman or superwoman. We can't do everything! We especially can't do everything for everyone.
As obvious as that sounds, it's incredibly difficult to accept. Leaders will always struggle with spreading themselves too thin, taking too much on, and asking for help. Part of it is the nature of being a leader, as leaders desire to see the tangible difference their leadership makes in the organization. Leaders want to see and hear that their work is justified, and will suffer quality for quantity in order to achieve that end. I'm not talking about a selfish desire to be praised, I'm talking about taking pride in your work and actually believing that you are making a difference!
When this happens, we can slowly but surely convince ourselves that we are superhuman in some way; able to take on more than the average person. We try to fill in ALL the gaps. We recognize how much people need us, and we try to become everything for everyone. We know it's not sustainable, but if not us.. who?
This is the dichotomy of leadership; it can't all be me, but if not me.. who?
In my youth pastor days, I struggled with wanting to be everything for every one of our students. I wanted to fill in all the gaps in each of their contexts. If they never had a brother, I wanted to be that brother. If they didn't have a father, I wanted to be a father figure. If they didn't have a Godly family, I wanted us to be that family. This was entirely a good desire until we started to grow, and now we had set goals and standards that just weren't scalable.
That's when I came across one of John Maxwells many books and read, "What I can't do for everyone, I can do for someone!" It reminded me of when Moses was trying to oversee each and every issue the Israelites until his father-in-law Jethro told him, "what you are doing is not good." He instructed Moses to set the people into groups of 50s, 100s, 1000s, etc, and to set leaders over each group. What Moses couldn't do for everyone he could do for the leaders of those groups! What he couldn't do for everyone, he could do for some!
Think about that for a second; you can't be everything for everyone. You can't give everyone your best. But you can give someone your best. Quality over quantity! We give our main team members our best, and lead them to give their main team members their best! And so on and so forth until each member of the team is getting someone's best, and giving someone their best.
What we can't do for everyone we can do for someone!
Learn to say NO, so you can learn to say YES!