The Best Start for ANY Journey? It’s Not Usually What We Think of First!.

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While entertaining which menu item to offer for this week’s Training Table, I came across a WSJ article, “Trust Me” (about leadership and trust) that served to tip the balance in one direction for me, “putting first things first”.

Please take a gander at the article so that we can all be chowing down on the same fare.

With one exception (the main thing), I thought the article took into account some very important and nicely organized points about leadership and TRUST. What’s missing for me is the principle and activity that should precede all other items—in the article and in all of life:

Always Begin by Spending Time Looking Inside-Out.

The best start for ANY and ALL journeys is to stop the busyness, “clear the deck”, and wrap the entirety of our mind, emotions, and planned activities around this truism: “The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20; Proverbs 4:23; Mark 12:30)

The #1 most vital (risky, painstaking, and honest) journey we should take when considering how to do anything important in life is to look INSIDE first. Our natural predisposition is to do just the opposite—and ultimately the most detrimental: Get lost in an analysis of the OUTSIDE (or external) goings on… first.

And never consider or get around to the first most important stage: the INSIDE.

To use the WSJ article as one example, point #1 might read something like, “Re-familiarize yourself with your own self (strengths-weaknesses), your own interests (story, gifts and biases), your own trust issues (love-truth balance), and your own purpose, passion, and primary objectives (personal vision, mission, core values) as a leader.”

THEN… and only then are we ready to address the first word in the WSJ article’s first point: “Show…” Moving towards the OUTSIDE, towards others, towards the start of any journey… should never begin before we’ve done some INSIDE work.

Every (challenging or “ho-hum”) circumstance we run up against in life offers us the chance to slow down, chain ourselves to the “time-out area”, and truthfully and lovingly look INSIDE our own heart so that every OUTSIDE activity can be seen from the proper perspective: What’s the reality? How can I act with humility? In what ways will my being a bold leader inspire those around me?

When should Inside-Out precede Outside-In? Always. Every time. At big and small decision points.

This is a very big matter but allow me to offer two last taste treats.

First, if we use only one very valuable resource to underpin my point, Daniel Goleman’s Five Emotional Intelligence Factors are flourished in the heart of leadership (anyone) whenever we begin by saying, “Let’s begin INSIDE-OUT! Why? Because the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.”

Leadership flourishes by, in, and through,

Self-Awareness—The ability to recognize and understand your most core beliefs, value system, emotions, and drives—as well as their effect on others.

Self-Regulation—The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods. The propensity to suspend judgment—to think before acting.

Motivation—A passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status. A propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence.

Empathy—The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. Skill in treating people according to their (heart) emotional reactions.

Social Skills—Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks. An ability to find common ground and build rapport.” (Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence)

NET, NET: “Inside-Out Leaders” live and promote TRUTH. TRUST. TEAMWORK. And flourish everyone they influence!

As leaders grow, everyone they influence will grow as well. And the opposite is true as well: Infant leaders cultivate childish behavior in others.

Second, there are a godzillion examples of how this works, but allow me to offer some biggies (SEE: “Resources” below):

Corporate… IPO, Acquisition, Assimilation, Succession, Evolution, etc? Plan a retreat so that leadership can be “one team, one dream” on the existing organization’s Vision, Mission, Core Values. THEN move outward…

Getting Married, Married, Family Planning, Raising Kids? Plan a time away with trusted guidance to create or re-calibrate the personal Vision, Mission, Core Values. THEN move outward…

Weighing the Details of the Stewardship of Our Time, Talents, and Treasure? Focus on “Getting to ‘YES!’”, in order to say “NO!” E.g., Go away to create or re-calibrate the family Vision, Mission, Core Values. THEN move outward…

Running a Marathon, First 10K, First Ascent, Next Dream Adventure? Slow down to gather a small group to help settle the why, how, when, where, cost, benefits, etc issues. THEN move outward…

Considering Divorce, Separating from a Company, Leaving a Church, Jettisoning Certain Relationships? Stop consulting with “comfortable and familiar” (potentially enabling, co-dependent) people; start repenting of any or potential blindness, complicity; refresh a relationship with God and a Bible-based community; and open the heart to the light of His Biblical and incarnational (Christian people) love and truth. THEN move outward…

Considering Any Array of Ways to Ramp-Up Our Christian Faith and Impact? Hide away with one (or a few at the most) trusted Christians and “re-root our IDENTITY” with tools like, “Who Am I in Christ?”, Spiritual Gifts Inventory, personal Vision, Mission, Core Values, etc. THEN move outward…

Considering Any Array of Ways to Sin Against the Trinity and the People in Our Community? Hide away with one (or a few at the most) trusted Christians and “re-root our IDENTITY” with a tool like, “Who Am I in Christ?”, and an urgent desire to look at the idol structures of our own heart. THEN move outward…

Planning a party? Buying a car? Hiring an employee? Choosing the best paint color? Considering a new initiative at church or at work? Re-modeling a home? Looking at colleges? Entering, re-entering the workplace? Choosing which friends to hang with? Re-commiting to getting to know the neighbors?

Multiple piercings and tattoos? Okay, maybe just don’t do that.

You name it! All decisions are worthy of beginning “INSIDE-OUT”, and then moving to “OUTSIDE-IN”!

Please never forget the proper order and never do it alone. The fruitfulness (Luke 13:6-9; Galatians 5:22-23) of every decision will multiply beyond your wildest dreams.


Resources: Getting a Start on Mission

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